Adelaîde Labille-Guiard 1749-1803
Delightful surprise, Delicieuse surprise 1779, Getty museum Los Angeles
In forging a successful career as a portraitist, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard had to overcome an unwelcoming male-dominated art world. Labille-Guiard was often described as a bitter rival of the best-known woman painter of the time, Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Le Brun, but this rivalry was in fact the invention of male artists and critics threatened by their female competitors. After Labille-Guiard’s Salon debut in 1783, a slanderous pamphlet accused her of ethical and sexual improprieties. Despite this adversity, Labille-Guiard was an active promoter of rights for women artists and a successful teacher.