"Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky" by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

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Varvara Ivanovna Ladomirsky (1800)
Copyright held by Columbus Museum of Art

Thanks to Kevin J. Kelly for the color version of this painting.

The beautiful Varvara is dressed in the Greco-Roman style so popular after 1795 in Europe. The one-shouldered tunic here is trimmed with a Greco-Roman pattern. Jewelry adds to our sense of this woman's high style and wealth. The very casualness of the hair style combined with the necklace, tunic pin, armlet, and beaded cestus or girdle tied under the breast conveys a sense of complete familiarity with luxury. The painting, moreover, captures a smokey sexuality that is still potent today in an age in which near-nudity is commonly seen. The ocean background seems to be a subtle link to Venus, and the sensuous Russian beauty a modern Venus.

Portraits by Le Brun, the Early Years
Portraits by Le Brun, after 1800
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