Marie Antoinette (1744–1842)
Renowned French artist Élisabeth Vigée LeBrun is considered the most important female painter of the 1700s. The daughter of a portraitist and fan painter, by the age of 15 she was earning sufficient money through her portraits to support her family. Her marriage to Jean-Baptiste-Pierre LeBrun, a painter and art dealer, gave her unprecedented access to Parisian nobility. In 1779 she was invited to the Palace of Versailles to paint Queen Marie Antoinette. She quickly became the official portraitist of the French Royal Family, completing more than 30 works. At the start of the French Revolution, Élisabeth was forced to flee France in fear of her life. She was welcomed with open arms throughout Europe, where she painted royalty, aristocrats and celebrities, including Catherine the Great, Lord Byron and Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson.