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 Marie-Guillemine Benoist



Benoist [née Leroulx-Delaville; (de) Laville-Lerou(l)x], Marie-Guillemine  Pages: 1

(b Paris, 18 Dec 1768; d Paris, 8 Oct 1826). French painter. She first studied with Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun in 1781 and in 1786 worked in the studio of Jacques-Louis David. In 1784 she met the poet Charles-Albert Demoustier (1760–1801), and the figure of Emilie in his Lettres de la mythologie represents Benoist. She exhibited at the Salon in 1791 (Psyche Taking Leave of her Family) and obtained a gold medal there in 1804. Her reputation as a portrait painter brought her commissions from Napoleon and his family: in 1803 the portrait of the emperor Napoleon (1804; Ghent, Law Courts) for the town of Ghent; in 1805 that of Marshal Brune (destr.; copy Versailles, Château) for the Tuileries; in 1807 that of Pauline Bonaparte (Versailles, Château). She also executed the portraits of Marie-Elise, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (Lucca, Mus. & Pin. N.) and the empress Marie-Louise (Fontainebleau, Château). She made her name with the semi-nude Portrait of a Negress (exh. Salon 1800; Paris, Louvre), in which she broke with the graceful style of her early works. The picture was praised by the public and the critics for the purity of the drawing and the skill of the colouring combined with a plastic strength lacking in the earlier portraits, achieved by the faithful application of David’s aesthetic. Benoist also attempted genre scenes, for example The Fortune-teller (1812; Saintes, Mus. B.-A.) and the Bible Reading (exh. Salon 1810; Louviers, Mus. Mun.), an intimate scene close to those of Martin Drolling, although with less emphasis on detail and anecdote than on sentiment. On the restoration of the Monarchy in 1815, her husband, the advocate Pierre-Vincent Benoist, whom she had married in 1793, was made a member of the Council of State and, although at the summit of her career, she was obliged to abandon painting.



Elisa Bonaparte, Emperor Napoleon's sister and Duchess of Lucca


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