Femme of the Week: Anne Vallayer-Coster

September 07, 2008

Femme of the Week: Anne Vallayer-Coster

Anne Vallayer-Coster was born Anne Vallayer December 21st, 1744. She practiced painting all her life and on July 28th 1770 at 26 she offered her 'portfolio' for consideration to the Academie. Her 'portfolio' consisted of small paintings of "scientific and artistic'' instruments. Well it was a good thing she tried because the Academie accepted her! In fact * waves fan * she was one of 3 great women of her time to be accepted!

Vallayer was very popular, and although she was a beauty her popularity rose from her clear artistic talent. At this point she mainly focused on her still-life paintings. They were beautiful and market-able. But brighter commissions soon followed!

In the summer of 1779 comte d'Angiviller gave her a commission for a full portrait of Madame Sophie. For that she was to receive 6,000 livres!

According to Roland Michel there is a painting in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore that is 'signed' by Vallayer and dated 1778. It is a small portrait of Marie Antoinette. It has been thought to be a 19th century copy of an original lost to time, but either way it is believable. Apparently in 1779 Marie put forth an effort to support Vallayer, "being allocated lodgings in the Louvre." And this is an action known to a Queen who was not the greatest patron of arts. Of Marie, Vallayer had painted a pastel portrait (in a private collection, sorry I don't have an image of that one!)
"Have you ever been done in pastels?" "No, I don't travel much."

She also did portraits of the Kings other aunts; Madame Victorie and Madame Adelaide. These royal commissions were an artists key to fame and fortune. If today's artist wants to show paintings in NYC galleries, the 18th century artist wanted their paintings on the walls of Versailles. Vallayer-Coster was also fortunate enough to survive the Revolution. Not only did she survive but so did her career. In 1804 she had a commission by Josephine!

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