Born in Paris in 1755, Madame Lebrun became a member of the Académie de Saint Luc aged nineteen. She is famed for her numerous portraits of Marie Antoinette and the French royal family, including the infamous ’La reine en gaulle’ portrait in 1783. After the French Revolution she worked in Italy, Austria and Russia painting nobility and royalty.
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No starving artist, Vigée Le Brun was the first woman to ever become a court painter in France when she was commissioned to paint Marie Antoinette. She painted royalty and nobility throughout Europe, even as her personal life had its ups and downs.
In 1784, the whatchmaker Pierre Kintzing and the cabinetmaker David Roentgen,presented at Versailles the Joueuse de Tympanon, an automaton looking like Marie Antoinette. It is said that the automaton’s hair were those of the Queen and that its dress had been created/made with the same fabric of one of Maria Antoinette dresses. The music played by the Joueuse was composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck Allemand; a German composer who was also the Queen’s music teacher. Marie antoinette, who understood the value of such a creation bought it in 1785 and donated it to the accademy of sciences. The Joueuse de tympanon , survived the horrors of the revolution is now in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris yet fully functional.