International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
Guide me so that I can imitate you: Revisiting the Elisabeth Vigee Le Bruns Julie Le Brun Looking in the Mirror

Abstract


The article revolves around the Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun’s 1787’s canvas “Julie Le Brun Looking in a Mirror”, depicting the artist’s daughter. The text takes a deeper look at the possible inspirations behind the portrait’s intriguing composition and tries to find out how the artwork might be responding to the Enlightenment’s changing conception and depiction of childhood. After presenting the circumstances of the effigy’s creation and its visual qualities, the attention is drawn to the “impossible perspective” depicted in the portrait and its plausible ties with the earlier iconographic examples or “The Paragone debate”. The article also looks into what influences the painter could have experienced from her colleagues, when it came to the changing rendering of children. Finally, the question, how Vigee Le Brun personally, as a mother and as an artist, may have been affected by the new perception of childhood, defined in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s seminal work “Emile”, and whether it is visible in Julies’ portrait, is discussed. In this context, Julie’s portrait gradually emerges as one of Vigee Le Brun’s most unique portraits, presumably directly corresponding to the social and artistic novelties of its age by bringing the image of the individual, sensible and “enlightened” child forward.