(b. 1744, Paris, d. 1818, Paris)


French painter. She spent her childhood at the Gobelins, where her father was a goldsmith. Though she thus belonged to artistic circles, when received (reçue) by the Académie Royale in 1770, on presentation of the still-lifes Attributes of Painting and Musical Instruments (both Paris, Louvre), she was known to have neither a teacher nor an official patron. She managed to get some training from a well-known marine painter, Joseph Vernet, but she picked up still-life all but on her own. She entered the Royal Academy in her mid-twenties, as precocious as François Boucher had been - and one of only four women before the Revolution.

As a still-life painter she got Marie-Antoinette's patronage. Despite her closeness to the ancien régime and France's hated monarch, she survived decades of bloodshed and shifting tastes. In fact, one of Vallayer-Coster's grandest works dates to the end of her life. It also reprises the motifs of her earliest art.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.