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Title Portrait of Countess Golovine
Collection Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham
Artist Vigée-LeBrun, Elisabeth Louise (French painter, 1755-1842)
Date Earliest about 1797
Date Latest about 1800
Description Countess Golovine sweeps up her shawl and looks at us with startling candour. Vigée-LeBrun met and befriended Varvara Nikolaevna Golovine (1766-1821) in Russia in the late 1790s during the artist's exile from revolutionary France. She described Golovine as a 'charming woman' who was a talented musician and artist, and a lover of literature. The spontaneous and informal pose conveys Golovine's lively intelligence and a sympathetic engagement between the two women. The compact octagonal format and the simplest setting - a diagonal shaft of light - reinforce the portrait's intimacy.
Current Accession Number 80.1
Subject portrait (Countess Golovine)
Measurements 83.5 x 66.7 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox 1980 for £75,000.
Provenance Elisabeth Golovine (1801-1867), the sitter's daughter; by descent to Leonie Wanda Potocka (1821-1893); by descent to Count Charles Lanckoronski (1848-1933), Vienna; Lanckoronski, 1978; Heim Gallery, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., and Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox.
Principal Exhibitions Elisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun 1755-1842, Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth, 1982, cat. no. 46; Art Treasures of England, Royal Academy, London, 1998, cat. no. 332.
Publications Vigée-LeBrun, E., Souvenirs, Paris, 1835-7, III, p. 346; Nolhac, P. de, Madame Vigée-LeBrun, Paris, 1908, illlus. facing p. 154; Mikhailovich, Grand Duke Nicolas, L'impératrice Elisabeth-Alexévina, l'épouse de l'empereur Alexandre I, 1908-9, I, illus. facing p. 208; Nikolenko, L., 'The Russian Portraits of Madame Vigée-LeBrun', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1967, LXX, p. 104; Spencer-Longhurst, P., 'A Vigée-Le Brun for the Barber Institute', The Burlington Magazine, December 1981, vol. 123, no. 945, p. 745, illus. p. 741; Spencer-Longhurst, P., 'The Golden Jubilee of the Barber Institute', Apollo, October 1983, vol. 118, no. 260, pp. 305-7; Jones, M. V., 'Flirting her way round the court of St Petersburg', in Albert, M-A. (ed.), Diagonales dostoļevskiennes: mélanges en l'honneur de Jacques Catteau, Paris, 2002, pp. 27-288, ill. p. 275; Verdi, R., The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, London, 2005 rev. ed., p. 76.
Rights Owner The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham
Author Dr Nicola Gauld/Barber Institute



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