Welcome to a new feature on my website! I’ve been posting short history posts on Instagram for a little while now, but I wanted to share them on here too – so welcome to mini-posts! I promise full blogs will be back soon too, but this way there’s plenty of history, art, museum, reading and Austen content all the time! I hope you enjoy.
Winter, eighteenth-century, attributed to Anne Vallayer-Coster, oil on canvas. (Open Access image, courtesy Met Museum, 07.225.462.)
Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818) was a French artist born to a miniature painter mother and a master goldsmith father, which likely encouraged her love of detail in her painting. At the age of 26, she was unanimously elected to the Académie Royale, and exhibited there regularly from 1771 until the year before she died.
Diderot said of her work, “It is certain that if all new members made a showing like Mademoiselle Vallayer’s, and sustained the same high level of quality there, the salon would look very different!”
In 1780, Vallayer-Coster was made a painter to Marie Antoinette, where she painted a variety of subjects that included portraits, miniatures and trompe l’oeil reliefs, even though she is mostly remembered for her still life paintings. Still life, after all, were seen as an acceptable genre for women artists.
She survived the French Revolution (despite many of her patrons not) and was patronised by Empress Joséphine afterwards.