Musée No:792.039Regular price $32.32
Basket Of Plums
Artist: Anne Vallayer-Coster
Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744 – 1818) was an 18th-century French painter best known for still lifes. She achieved fame and recognition very early in her career. In 1770, she was admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. She was unanimously elected, making her one of only four women accepted into the Académie before the French Revolution. Despite the low status that still life painting had at this time, her highly developed skills, especially with flowers, and her “precocious talent and the rave reviews” brought her to the attention other artists and more importantly to the court.
Queen Marie Antoinette took a particular interest in her work. Such was that interest that with her Court connections and pressure from Marie Antoinette, she received space in the Louvre in 1781 which was highly unusual for women artists. Not only that, but soon after she married Jean-Pierre Silvestre Coster, a wealthy lawyer, parlementaire in the presence of Marie Antoinette at the courts of Versailles. Marie Antoinette signed the marriage contract as a witness and bestowed titles on them of the very highest order, the noblesse de robe, making them almost indistinguishable from the old nobility – in hindsight and given what was to come, not necessarily a good thing.
Amazingly despite her newly noble status and her close connection to the throne, she escaped the guillotine and avoided the chaos of the French Revolution in 1789. With the Reign of Terror in 1793, the ancient regime (the royalty and aristocracy), which up to this point had supported her career simply disappeared. There is evidence that during this terrifying period she worked for the Gobelins Tapestry factory. During Napoléon's reign, the empress Josephine did buy two works from her in 1804, but her reputation was all but gone. In addition to still lifes, she painted portraits and genre paintings, but because of the restrictions placed on women at the time her success at figure painting was limited. In 1817 she exhibited Still Life with Lobster in the Paris Salon. She donated it to the restored King Louis XVIII. There is some evidence that Vallayer-Coster gave it to the king as an expression of her joy as a loyal Bourbon supporter after the turbulent years of the Revolution and Napoleon. She died in 1818 at the age of seventy-three having painted more than 120 still lifes, always with her distinctive colours and flair.