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“Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers

Villers Young Woman Drawing

“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 Villers painting this portrait and furthermore art historians argue that this painting is a self-portrait.

Marie-Denise Villers (née Lemoine) was a French painter who specialised 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.


  • What do the two figures that can be seen outside the window symbolise?
  • Are the two figures outside the window the artist’s vision of herself in the future?
  • What is this self-portrait saying to us?

Explore European Paintings in the MET

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

Marie-Denise Villers

  • Name:            Marie-Denise Villers
  • Born:              Marie-Denise Lemoine
  • Birth:             1774 – Paris
  • Died:              1821 (aged 46)
  • Nationality:  French
  • Movement:  Neoclassicism


“After rain comes sunshine.“
– French Proverb


Photo Credit: [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons