Anne Vallayer-Coster's artworks have been compared to another great female artist, Artemisia Gentileschi. Anne, like many other female artists of her time
were forgotten for many decades and not appreciated until their works were
rediscovered. Anne would gain great fame under the empire of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Marie loved Anne's work so much that Anne was appointed to be
the painter for the Court of Marie Antoinette.
Born on December 21st, 1744, Anne Vallayer-Coster and her family were part of
the artistic circles in France due to her father's job as a goldsmith.
She would spend most of her youth working at the Gobelins tapestry factory
where she would be able to learn many skills from the craftsmen and artists who
also worked at the factory. Her father also worked there as both a master craftsman and an apprentice.
In 1770, Anne was invited into the Academy Royale after submitting her
still-life painting which was titled, "Musical Instruments". After joining the
academy Anne began holding art exhibits in galleries throughout Paris and in the
Louvre every two years.
Many of Anne's beautiful paintings show the influence of Jean-Simeon Chardin.
This is evident by their poetic, charming, and modest look and the precise
details. For example, in her painting titled, "Still Life with Dead Hare" one can see much comparison in many of Chardin's paintings that included dead rabbits and game birds.
After 1775, the majority of her floral still-lifes would bring her much
attention. The wealthy art collectors bought them for their private collections. At this point in her career she also began painting miniatures and
would receive commissions for life-size portraits. These portraits received
high praises from her fellow artists.
In 1780, Louis XVI commissioned Anne to be the court painter for Queen Maria Antoinette for whom she would produce many paintings. Marie Antoinette was so
impressed with Anne's work that she secured lodgings for Anne in the Louvre, and
would sign the marriage contract for Anne and her fiancé Jean in 1781.
Two other portrait painters began to mimic Anne's styles which lead many art
critics to unfavorably compare Anne's works to these two artists, named Adelaide Labille-Guiard and Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun. This did not detour Anne from
continuing to paint in this style and her work was recognized for it's superiority
after one art exhibit where paintings from all three artists were on display.
Anne had a unique way of displaying floral arrangements, ordinary
objects, fruit, and animals in her paintings.
She would highlight them with
subtle brushstrokes and colors, making them seem almost real.
Throughout her career, Anne created many still-life masterpieces such as:
One of her most famous paintings was the portrait she made of Queen Marie
In her last exhibition, held in 1817, at the Louvre, Anne would display many
paintings that belonged to Louis XVIII. These included many of her still-life
works, life-size paintings and portraits she made for Marie Antoinette.
Musicians give high praise to one of Anne's still-life paintings titled, "Attributes of Music", for its authentic use of the musical instruments and for
the clearly legible sheet music. It has been said that you can read every note on the sheet music clear enough that you could play the song shown in the
Sadly, on February 28, 1818 the art world lost another great artist when Anne Vallayer-Coster died.
Many museums around the world still display works made by Anne Vallayer-Coster.
Museums such as:
- Bowes Museum, County Durham, UK
- Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- The Louvre, Paris
- Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, UK
For More information on other lesser known female artists that
you should read about, please check Lesser known female artists.