Last of the Libertines

Last of the Libertines
AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File

Not long ago, I went to a large exhibition in France of portraits by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun. I was charmed by the first few that I saw, but by the end of the exhibition I experienced a sensation not unlike that of having eaten too many chocolate truffles very quickly. Everyone she painted seemed to be much the same in character and even, to an extent, in appearance. All lacked firmness, being either winsome or coquettish, though always elegant. I am not an egalitarian, but I felt by the end that I understood a little better the resentment or rage directed at the class whose portraits she painted. Even when trying to be serious, they seemed frivolous. If frivolity can be deep, they were deeply frivolous.

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