Today’s painting by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is one of her portraits of Louis XV’s final mistress Jeanne Bécu, Comtesse du Barry (1743-1793), who was guillotined in December 1793. Vigée Le Brun worked on the painting at the Comtesse’s Château de Louveciennes in the summer of 1789 but was forced to abandon it when she went into exile that same year. The painting was then given to the Comtesse’s lover, the Duc de Brissac and then retrieved in autumn 1793 from amongst his possessions by her friend, the Duc de Rohan, after Brissac was murdered in the prison massacres of September 1792. The painting eventually found its way back to Madame Vigée Le Brun, who completed it and then bequeathed it to her niece, who sold it to Talleyrand.
This painting was recently sold by Christie’s for £787,722 ($975,000).