In 1770 Marie-Antoinette becomes dauphine de France. She is openly hostile to the new comtesse. Despite good predispositions, Madame du Barry will not exercise the role of patron of art and referee of fashions that had been so brilliantly held earlier in the same reign by Madame de Pompadour.
Louis XV dies in 1774. Madame du Barry retires shortly afterward to her château de Louveciennes. In 1771 she had built therein for her receptions the music pavilion, a masterpiece of French classicism made by Ledoux.
Madame Vigée Le Brun becomes the official painter of Marie-Antoinette in 1778. Very clever in social relations, she makes pretty portraits of male courtiers and charming portraits of the ladies. She does not neglect the fallen favorite of whom she makes two portraits, in 1781 and 1782.
In September 1789 Vigée Le Brun comes to Louveciennes. She begins a portrait of the comtesse. The sound of the revolutionary cannonades interrupts this activity. The head had been painted and the body was sketched.
Too involved in the Ancien Régime, Vigée Le Brun must go into exile. Du Barry is guillotined in 1793. The artist returns to Paris in 1802. The comte de Narbonne-Lara restores to her the unfinished portrait. The Souvenirs by Vigée Le Brun attest that the completion of this painting is autograph but its date is not revealed.
This posthumous portrait of Du Barry seated in an elegant dress in a landscape, oil on canvas 130 x 98 cm, is estimated $ 1M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 1, lot 33. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
SOLD for $ 980K including premium