“Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
“Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers depicts an appealing image of a young woman artist in a white dress looking directly at the viewer.
Initially, this picture was attributed to a male artist; however, modern critical research points to Marie-Denise Villers as the artist of this portrait, and art historians argue that this painting is a self-portrait.
Interestingly Villers has included in this work a broken window pane, in a room that is believed to be a gallery of the Louvre. Together with the couple stand on a parapet, Villers has presented a mystery to be decoded.
Germaine Greer wrote that the picture “does not seek to charm, nor does it seek to portray the sexual vitality of its sitter,” and she feels that it is a feminist painting in nature.
Other feminist critics have also begun to see feminine aspect to the painting. The Louvre gallery depicted in this painting was used by women to teach and receive instruction in art.
So is this a portrait of a woman by a woman artist seeing the world through the 1800s feminist eyes? What does she see?
Her hair and dress glow in the light, as she stares out at us, with a wish to be remembered as one who dreamed of painting forever.
Marie-Denise Villers (née Lemoine) was a French painter who specialized in portraits. Villers was a gifted pupil of Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767–1824).
In 1794, she married an architecture student who supported her in her art, even though during that time, many women were forced to give up professional artwork after marriage.
Her life between the time of her last dated painting in 1814 and her death in 1821 remains a mystery.
Young Woman Drawing
- Title: Young Woman Drawing
- French: Charlotte du Val d’Ognes
- Artist: Marie-Denise Villers
- Year: 1801
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 63 1/2 × 50 5/8 in (161.3 × 128.6 cm)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- Name: Marie-Denise Villers
- Born: Marie-Denise Lemoine
- Birth: 1774 – Paris
- Died: 1821 (aged 46)
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Neoclassicism
Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers
A Tour of Women in the Arts
- Élisabeth Sophie Chéron (1648 – 1711)
- Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1656)
- Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun ( 1755 – 1842)
- Marie-Denise Villers (1774 – 1821)
- Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899)
- Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823 – 1903)
- Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926)
- Anna Lea Merritt (1844 – 1930)
- Elizabeth Thompson (1846 – 1933)
- Margaret Bernadine Hall (1863 – 1910)
- Artists and their Art
- Women in the Arts
Artists by Themselves
MET European Paintings Collection
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- “Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky
- “Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
MET American Wing Collection
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
Women in Art
“After rain comes sunshine.”
– French Proverb
Photo Credit: [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons