"Portrait of a Woman" with author Bridget Quinn and Vanessa Hua

Event date: 

Saturday, April 27, 2024 - 2:00pm

Event address: 

276 Village Square
Orinda, CA 94563-2504
Bridget Quinn
Portrait of a Woman cover
Vanessa Hua

Join us for a lively discussion of Bridget Quinn's latest book, Portrait of a Woman. She'll be in conversation with Vanessa Hua.

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.


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.

Vanessa Hua is a Bay Area journalist and author of Forbidden City; A River of Stars; and Deceit and other Possibilities.


Portrait of a Woman: Art, Rivalry, and Revolution in the Life of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard By Bridget Quinn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781797211879
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - April 16th, 2024