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Anne Vallayer-Coster

 (1744 - 1818)
Anne Vallayer-Coster was active/lived in France.  Anne VallayerCoster is known for portrait, nature morte painting.

Anne Vallayer-Coster

Biography from Christie's New York, Rockefeller Center

With Vigée Le Brun and Adélaide Labille-Guiard, Anne Vallayer-Coster was among the most celebrated and successful female painters in France in the years leading up to the Revolution and, with Chardin and Oudry, indisputably one of the finest still life painters of the era.  The daughter of a goldsmith who worked for the Gobelins tapestry manufacturer, she grew up in artistic circles, but is not known to have had either a teacher or an official patron.  Nevertheless, she was unanimously accepted into the Académie royale in 1770 with the submission of a pair of ambitious still lifes, The Attributes of Painting and The Allegory of Music (both Louvre, Paris).  Remarks from the painter Johann-George Wille, who voted in favor of her admission, gives a sense of the enthusiasm with which she was received into that august body and the patronization she would encounter: “I was absolutely enchanted by the talent of this likable person, whom I saw for the first time and whose talent is truly that of a man perfected in this genre of painting representing still life.’ 

She exhibited for the first time in the Paris Salon the following year, achieving a critical and popular success that would never desert her.  Diderot wrote of her first submissions in 1771, “Mlle. Vallayer astonishes us as much as she enchants us…No one of the French School can rival the strength of her colors…, nor her uncomplicated surface finish.”  She would continue to exhibit at the Salon until 1817, a year before her death.

Although she painted some portraits – generally rather wooden and conventional, no match for the mastery of Vigée Le Brun as a portraitist – occasional genre subjects and a few miniatures, Vallayer-Coster achieved justifiable success as a still life painter; well over 100 still lifes are listed as surviving in the most recent catalogue raisonné of her works (2002) and some 450 were recorded in her lifetime.  She was relentlessly compared to Chardin, often quite favorably, but she was no mere imitator and, in fact, the range of subject matter in her still lifes far exceeded that of the older master: while she painted dead game, musical instruments, military trophies and simple kitchen utensils, as did Chardin, she also expanded her repertoire to include porcelain tea services, cooked hams, steamed lobsters, shells and coral and, most especially, flowers.  This last subject Chardin tackled only once (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh), but Vallayer-Coster made it her particular specialty after 1775, and for the remainder of her career.

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About  Anne Vallayer-Coster

Born:  1744
Died:   1818
Known for:  portrait, nature morte painting