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Permanent Collection


Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

(Paris, 1755–1842)

Elisabeth Maria Filipina Mniszech
1797, oil, canvas, 48,5 x 44,2 cm
signed and dated lower left: Petersbourg / Vigée / Le Brun / 1797

ZD S 1993002, Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Ljubljana
The painting is signed and dated at the bottom left Petersbourg / Vigée / Le Brun / 1797 and shows Elizabeth Isabella Mniszech (1787–1830), daughter of one of the nieces of the Polish king Stanislaus II August Poniatowski. It was painted at the time of the artist’s sojourn in St. Petersburg and is also mentioned in her Memoirs. Vigée-Lebrun enjoyed the esteem of King Stanislaus I August, his sister the Countess Louise Zamojska and her daughter, the Countess Urzula Mniszech. A copy of our painting in miniature was reproduced by J. Mycielski and S. Wasylewski in Portrety polskie Elżbiety Vigée-Lebrun, Lwów-Poznań, 1927.

Provenance: Beltinci Castle; confiscated 1945. – On the back of the stretcher a label with the inscription: Portrait der Gräfin / Izabella Demblin de Ville / geb. gfin Mnisczek- / Mutter Grossmamas Zichy’s / u. Misa’s Gros. svater / Demblin / Vigée Lebrun // Gehört Mysa; according to information from Mrs. Nina Škodlar (22 Nov. 1983), this painting is from Murska Sobota, FCC register, p. 232, No. 7205 as: “Lebrun Viggee (!): A Child with a Dog, oil on canvas, Beltinci”.
Exhibitions: 1960, Ljubljana, Cat. No. 125; 1983, Ljubljana, Cat. No. 98.
Lit.: Vigée-Le Brun, III, 1837, pp. 36, 347; Cevc 1960, p. 44, Cat. No. 125, Fig. 56; Baillio 1982, p. 116; Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, p. 167, Cat. No. 98, Fig. VIII and 98.

Biedermeier and Romanticism
Heavily censored public life between the Congress of Vienna and the Spring of Nations in 1848, weakened Church patronage, and the ascending middle class marked the era when life focused on the privacy of the family circle, individual dignity and the sense of belonging; this is expressed in the Central European art as the style of Biedermeier which coexisted with a Romantic view of nature. 

Portraiture was the genre of painting that saw its heyday in this era. Matevž Langus, Jožef Tominc, Mihael Stroj and Anton Karinger established themselves as individually formed portraitists who demonstrated their self-confidence as artists also through their self-portraits. The painters initially relied on formal characteristics of Neoclassicism. Stroj’s late portraits and particularly those by Karinger abandoned the Biedermeier manner and adopted a more realistic approach. 

Interest in landscape first appeared as the background of portraits; towards the mid-century first autonomous city vedute emerged. The Biedermaier landscape is idyllic, descriptive, and furnished with staffage figures. Painters were attracted by tourist destinations and locations that were related to homeland identity: Mt. Triglav, Lake Bohinj, Bled. Anton Karinger and Marko Pernhart established themselves as explicit landscapists. The latter became famous for his multi-part panoramas from mountain peaks. 

Still lifes became an attractive decoration of a middle-class home, and they also found favour with amateur women painters, one of whom was Countess Maria Auersperg Attems.