Countess Golovine sweeps up her shawl and looks at us with startling candour. Vigée-Lebrun met and befriended Varvara Nikolaevna Golovine in Russia in the late 1790s during the artist’s exile from revolutionary France. She described Golovine as a ‘charming woman’ who was a talented musician and artist, and a lover of literature. The spontaneous and informal pose conveys Golovine’s lively intelligence and a sympathetic engagement between the two women. The compact octagonal format and the simplest setting – a diagonal shaft of light – reinforce the portrait’s intimacy.
Where to see this painting?
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, B15 2TS
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.