Throughout history, art has been a means to heal and overcome pain. Frida Kahlo and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard both created their self-portraits in order to overcome pain in their life, in the process defying social conventions and ideas of femininity. While Labille-Guiard stuck to historic reality, Frida created her own reality. This paper will explore the backgrounds of these individuals, including their hardships. Then it will reveal how these unfortunate events did not take away their success.
Born in 1749 in Paris, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was the youngest of eight children in a bourgeois family. Her father was a merchant who owned a hat shop. There was much call for reform during her lifetime, the era of the French Revolution. During this time there was a strong reaction against the fanciful Rococo by the 1760s. The goal of the movement was to “inspire virtue and purify manners” (Stokstad 708). French portrait painters moved toward naturalistic poses and more everyday settings. Though the lightness of Rococo continued, stability and robustness were added to compositions (Stokstad 708).
The Enlightenment brought ideas of tolerance and liberty, leading to change in social structure. Previously only men were admitted into the academy, but now women were accepted (Montfort 2). Many women, including Labille-Guiard, became leading portraitists. Her style has the same feminine charm as Rococo, although a comparison with the depiction of the women in