Today, I turned in a rough draft of a paper about this painting:
Madame du Barry by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun. She was Louis XV's favorite mistress, as well as a courtesan with many different lovers and a major style icon among the Frenchies (Vigee-Lebrun was the hippest portraitier ever). So basically, she was Marilyn Monroe. The whole time I was writing, I couldn't help but think how her facial expression was exactly like Monroe's in this famous picture:
To me, these images serve to put on display what these women were seen as having to offer: their beauty. Their lovely faces, perfect bodies, artificial hair, and impeccable clothing. We were learning about portraits this week in class, and talking especially about how people tend to showcase their talents-- artists were generally painted with their brushes, knights with a glove in one hand and a sword in the other, and even certain other mistresses of the king were painted with books in hand. These portraits, however, showcase only loveliness.