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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This memoir by 18th-century French painter Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun (one of only two women admitted to the French Academy at that time) reads like a romance novel (in the best sense)! Follow Madame Vigee-Lebrun as she creates portraits of Marie Antoinette, endures the tribulations of an arranged marriage, flees to Russia to escape the Revolution's guillotine, and returns to paint portraits of (and gossip about) a new court ruled by Napoleon. It's hard to tell how strictly truthful Madame was, but her exciting life makes for a fascinating read, especially for artistic women.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As an artist myself, I was fascinated by Vigee Lebrun's very prolific and successful career. This book does not go into her training or working techniques very much, however it does talk about specific paintings and conditions under which she worked. What was very interesting was her description of the French and Russian aristocracy during the years that lead to their death and destruction. I enjoyed reading about them from the point of view of someone who not only worked with those people, but counted them as close friends.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim, and am tremendously happy that I did- It has become a touchstone and a favorite. Mme. Vigee Lebrun's voice is incredible- filled with warmth, humor, charm... her optimism and determination in the face of overwhelming adversity is admirable to say the least (the deaths of family, friends, patrons to the Revolution, the loss of her home, possessions... even her income to gambling-addict husband)... I cannot believe that there are not more books or historical entries amassed to such a phenomenal talent, a remarkable woman!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I just "discovered" Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun and bought this translation by Lionel Strachey of her memoirs. Fortunately, I also bought another translation on amazon, "The Memoirs of Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrum, Camden Press, translation by Sian Evans after I read an online review saying how much better this was than this Dodo Press edition. It is! Not only is the Camden Press version the full memoirs (not abridged), but the meaning isn't distorted as it is in this translation. For example, on p. 4, it reads "I had spent one happy year at home when my father fell ill. After two months of suffering all hope of his recovery was abandoned." At first I wondered why she was so happy returning home upon the illness of her father. Also, the translator doesn't include what caused the father's illness, even though his loss was a major event in the artist's life. In the Camden Press version, the description makes more sense, "I had just spent a very happy year in the family home, when my father fell ill. He had accidentally swallowed a fish bone which had become lodged in his stomach. In order to remove it he had to undergo several operations.... ...the wounds festered and after two months of suffering, my fathers condition left little hope of recovery." That's just one of many examples where this book is just slightly off the mark enough to cause confusion. I stopped reading this book when I saw how critical information had been dropped, so if you can't find the Camden Press version, be sure to look for another translation that's not "abridged." Finally, I was looking forward to the images in this Dodo Press "illustrated edition". Unfortunately, none of the images are in color and all are printed on the dull paper used for the text, so they're not very sharp. Finally, there's no information in the captions other than the person depicted so it's not clear which were painted by Vigee-Lebrun, and what year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This story is "straight from the horse's mouth." In her own words, she describes her life in its ups and downs on a personal level and we learn about a woman who escaped the bloodbath of the French Revolution and who was recognized in her own time for the remarkable artist she was. She was able to follow her path within the restraints of her time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed this very much. It brings to light so many historical figures whom she knew and who sat for her. I also admire the self sufficient and independent life she was able to create for herself via her work. Truly an exceptional accomplishment for a woman of her time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This was a wonderful translation of Madame Lebrun's memoirs and stayed very true to her original french diaries. As an descendent of Mme. Lebrun, I am very proud to add this book to my collection.
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on May 13, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
She was there at Versailles when Marie Antoinette was playing 'The Milkmaid.' There when the guillotine was erected in central Paris; - and when Catherine the Great died in her Saint Petersburg's Hermitage Palace. With her paints, brushes and easel she has sent down to us paintings of the 'movers and shakers' of her century.
One of the two ladies elected to the French Academy she was, however, forced to leave Paris at the start of the Revolution.
For the next twelve years she visited the major Courts of Europe, painting mainly beautiful and complimentary female portraits. Always in demand she, of course, had to 'donate' her substantial profits to her husband who remained in Paris.
Writing her memoirs seven years before her death in 1842 she has given us her account of those important events. Eye witness history. Not history composed from archives or history from one hundred years hind sight - she was there.!
While on her travels with coach and horses and pot holed 'roads' she was elected also to the Italian, Austrian and Geneva Art Academies. I really enjoyed this book.
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on May 5, 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The book was a HUGE disappointment. About every 15th page was blank and of the 31 listed illustrations, only about 3 were included and were extremely poor quality. If I had saved the paper work, I would have returned it. This, by the way is my first experience with Amazon. I'm glad you asked!
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on May 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a Women in Arts class and it was very useful. I love this artist, she is very interesting and this reads like a journal. I would definitely recommend this book. It also gives insight to some royalties and has good quotes!
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