Portrait of a Woman: Art, Rivalry, and Revolution in the Life of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (Hardcover)

Portrait of a Woman: Art, Rivalry, and Revolution in the Life of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard By Bridget Quinn Cover Image
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Discover the story of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard—a long-ignored artist and feminist of eighteenth-century France—in this imaginative and illuminating biography from an award-winning writer.

Summer in Paris, 1783. The Louvre steps, too hot and no breeze, the air electric with the heady anticipation of a coming storm: the year’s Royal Salon. Bewigged and powdered Parisians mill amid pigeons, dogs, and detritus; food and flower sellers; pamphleteers and propagandists. Men and women of every estate (clergy, nobles, commoners) are united under art: to love it, to despise it, to gossip endlessly about it.

Exhibiting at the Royal Salon was not for the faint of heart, and it was never intended for women.

Enter Adélaïde Labille-Guiard . . .

Born in Paris in 1749, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard rose from shopkeeper’s daughter to an official portraitist of the royal court—only to have her achievements reduced to ash by the French Revolution. While she defied societal barriers to become a member of the exclusive Académie Royale and a mentor for other ambitious women painters, she left behind few writings, and her legacy was long overshadowed by celebrated portraitist and memoirist Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

But Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s story lives on. In this engaging biography, Bridget Quinn applies her insightful interpretation of art history to Labille-Guiard’s life. She offers a fascinating new perspective on the artist’s feminism, her sexuality, and her vision of the world. Quinn expertly blends close analyses of paintings with broader context about the era and inserts delicately fictionalized interpersonal scenes that fill the gaps in the historical record. This is a compelling and inspiring look at an artist too long overlooked.

INSPIRING HISTORICAL NONFICTION: Despite numerous setbacks, Labille-Guiard built a legacy as an accomplished royal portraitist and a mentor to other young women artists of her era. This tale of solidarity, self-belief, and true passion for painting is sure to inspire contemporary creatives and women today.
CREATIVE AND COMPELLING ART HISTORY BOOK: Bridget Quinn is an award-winning author and art historian who has spent years researching Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s work and life. She vividly evokes both and weaves a compelling narrative at the intersection of art, gender, and politics. 
GORGEOUS ART REPRODUCTIONS THROUGHOUT: This biography features full-color images of artwork by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, her rumored rival Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, and other artists of the era, including portraits of key players in the narrative. These images, interspersed throughout the book, offer valuable visual references to illuminate the engaging text even further.

AN ARTFUL GIFT BOOK: Uniquely crafted and thoroughly researched, this volume makes an outstanding gift for art history enthusiasts and readers who love exploring untold stories in women's history.

Perfect for:
  • Readers of memoirs and biographies
  • History buffs and fans of historical fiction and nonfiction
  • Artists, art lovers, museumgoers, and art history students
  • Feminists and readers seeking feminist books
  • Francophiles and those interested in the French Revolution
  • Fans of Portrait of a Lady on Fire and other historical dramas

About the Author

Bridget Quinn is a writer, art historian, and critic. She is the author of the award-winning Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) and She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next. A graduate of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and a regular contributor to the arts magazine Hyperallergic, Quinn is a sought-after speaker on women and art. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Praise For…

“Deliciously inventive.... Portraying key moments from her subject’s life in vivid scenes and colorful dialogue, Quinn breathes life into her cast of characters and the anxious times in which they lived.... This excellent work of art history deserves a wide readership.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Reading this book, I became enthralled with the extraordinary and tragic life of eighteenth-century French painter Adélaïde Labille-Guiard. Quinn subtly twins Labille-Guiard’s growth as an artist with her own as a student of art, gracefully braiding memoir with real and imagined eighteenth-century scenes of painting and violent revolution and domestic life. This book is a great achievement and continues Quinn’s essential work of bringing female artists to the forefront of our attention and changing the canon.” —Matthew Zapruder, author of Story of a Poem and Father’s Day

Portrait of a Woman marks the latest chapter in Bridget Quinn’s strikingly original and, dare I say, revolutionary work that shines a light on the unsung heroes of history, namely women. The life of the artist in any era is damn hard, and none more so than the contrarians who aren’t favored by patronage or luck. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s talent and ambition made her a great painter, but her sex mixed with an uncompromising nature guaranteed that she would never be one of the French neoclassical darlings. Portrait of a Woman corrects the record, as it sings of a painter worth our knowing, and proves Quinn’s powerful reminder that chiaroscuro, the light and dark, is all around us.” —Carol Edgarian, New York Times–bestselling author of Vera

“Strong, original, and sprightly, Portrait of a Woman is art history for our own tumultuous times. Here’s Adélaïde Labille-Guiard alongside her Académie Royale counterpart Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, with no limit to just one great woman artist!” —Nell Irvin Painter, author of Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over

Portrait of a Woman is a delightful romp through the triumphs and tragedies of the eighteenth century, magnified through the experience of one truly fascinating figure. If Adélaïde Labille-Guiard isn’t already on your art historical radar, Bridget Quinn’s book assures that she will be.” —Jennifer Dasal, author of ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History

Product Details
ISBN: 9781797211879
ISBN-10: 1797211870
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 184
Language: English