Attributes of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, 1769, oil on canvas by Anne Vallayer-Coster, French, 1744-1818. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

  Coster entered the Royal Academy when she was in her mid-twenties. She was one of only 4 women admitted before the French Revolution and was largely self-taught. There is no hint of vanitas in this painting, but there is a statement that painting can be just as effective as sculpture.

Madame de Saint-Huberty in the Role of Dido (1785). Anne Vallayer-Coster (French, 1744-1818). Oil on canvas. NMWA. 

In 1783, Anne-Antoinette Clavel (known as Saint-Huberty) performed the leading role in Niccolò Piccinni’s opera Didon. Positioned against a grisaille rendering of an architectural arch and reliefs, Huberty is shown singing the verse: “Ah que je fus bien inspirée/ Quand je vous reçus dans ma Cour!” (Oh, how inspired I was when I received you in my court).