A Space of Their Own

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

April 11, 1749 – April 24, 1803

Active in: France


Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was born in Paris in 1749 and studied with François-Elie Vincent and Quentin La Tour. Although Labille-Guiard was admitted to the Academy in 1783 and made her debut at the Salon that year, it was at the Salon of 1785 that she captured the attention of the Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire, the unmarried aunts of Louis XVI. Madame Adélaïde so admired Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait with Two Pupils that she offered to buy it for a generous sum; however, the artist refused.

When Madame Adélaïde learned that Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun had been commissioned to paint a portrait of Marie-Antoinette for the Salon of 1787, she commissioned portraits of herself, her sister, and their niece Madame Élisabeth from Labille-Guiard. These commissions reaffirmed the conservative values of the court of Louis XV in the context of the extravagance of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. In 1787, the catalogue published to accompany the opening of the official Salon identified the French painter Adélaïde Labille-Guiard as “premier Peintre des Mesdames,” or First Painter for Mesdames Adélaïde and Victoire.

Labille-Guiard was married to Nicolas Guiard in 1769, and, following their divorce, to her former teacher François-Elie Vincent in 1800. Following the overthrow of the French monarchy, Labille-Guiard remained in Paris, creating a new identity for herself as an artist whose work helped conceptualize the new French republic. She and other reform-minded moderates hoped for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. At the Salon of 1791, Labille-Guiard exhibited pastel portraits of fourteen deputies to the National Assembly, including members of a group that opposed the Jacobins’ rejection of the monarchy. She retreated to the French countryside during the Reign of Terror, a time when many of her patrons were guillotined and a number of her most ambitious paintings were destroyed. She died in Paris in 1803.

Selected Works


Auricchio, Laura. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard: Artist in the Age of Revolution. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009.

Auricchio, Laura. “Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.” Harvard Magazine. 2009. https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2009/09/adelaide-labille-guiard.

Baetjer, Katharine. “Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749–1803).” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. June 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lagui/hd_lagui.htm.

Borzello, Frances. Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits. New York: Harry Abrams, 1998.

Cailleux, J. “Portrait of Madame Adélaïde of France, Daughter of Louis XV.” Burlington Magazine 111 (1969): 1–6.

Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art, and Society. London: Thames and Hudson, 2012.

Chapman, Caroline. Eighteenth-Century Women Artists: Their Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs. London: Unicorn, 2017.

De Jesus, Mary Sprinson. “Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Pastel Studies of the Mesdames de France.” Metropolitan Museum Journal 43 (2008): 157–72.

Fine, Elsa Honig. Women & Art: A History of Women Painters and Sculptors from the Renaissance to the 20th Century. London: Allanheld & Schram, 1978.

Fripp, Jessica L. Painting Community in Eighteenth-Century France: Labille-Guiard’s Portraits of Artists. Williamstown: Williams College, 2005.

Greer, Germaine. The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.

Harris, Anne Sutherland and Linda Nochlin. Women Artists, 1550–1950. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984.

Heller, Nancy G. Women Artists: An Illustrated History. New York and London: Abbeville, 2003.

Hohenzollern, Johann George Prinz von. “Das Bildnis der Marquise de la Valette von Mme Adelaide Labille-Guiard.” Pantheon 26 (1968): 474–82.

Hyde, Melissa. “‘Peintre par elle-même?’ Women Artists, Teachers and Students from Anguissola to Haudebourt-Lescot.” Arts et Savoirs 6 (2016): 1–19.

Jallut, M. “Le Portrait du prince de Bauffremont par Madame Labille-Guiard.” Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France (1962): 217–22.

Keener, Frederick M., and Susan E. Lorsch. Eighteenth-century Women and the Arts. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

National Museum of Women in the Arts. “Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.” https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/ad%C3%A9la%C3%AFde-labille-guiard.

Nicholson, Kathleen. “Labille-Guiard, Adélaïde.” Grove Art Online. 2003. https://doiorg.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T048514.

Münch, Birgit Ulrike, et al. Künstlerinnen: Neue Perspektiven auf ein Forschungsfeld der Vormoderne. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2017.

Parker, Rozsika, and Griselda Pollock. Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.

Passez, Anne-Marie. Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1749–1803: biographie et catalogue raisonné de son œuvre. Paris: Arts et Métiers Graphiques, 1973.

Portralis, R. “Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, 1749–1803.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 2, no. 26 (1901): 353–67, 477–94, and no. 17 (1902): 100–18, 325–47.

Quinn, Bridget, and Lisa Congdon. Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order). San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2017.

Weidemann, Christianne, Petra Larass, and Melanie Klier. 50 Women Artists You Should Know. Munich: Prestel, 2016.

Entry Notes

Contributions to timeline and bibliography provided by Indiana University A300 student Alyssa Joyal