Rose Adélaïde Ducreux: Self-Portrait with a Harp, ca. 1790

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Between 1780 and 1810, many French female painters reached impressive heights of artistic achievement as well as professional success. Despite the fact that women were admitted to France’s prestigious Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, restrictions prevented them from attending drawing classes. However, by the 1780’s, women ranked among the most sought-after artists in Paris. Ducreux exhibited this oil canvas self-portrait at the 1791 Salon. She depicts herself testing the tuning of a harp. By portraying her musical talents along with her painting skills, Ducreux presents herself as the ideal role model for women in the 18th century. This painting is the finest known example of her work.

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