Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was a self-taught French painter who became a professional artist in her teens. In 1783 she joined the French Academy. They permitted only four female members at any given time. She was the preferred portraitist of Queen Marie Antoinette.
Her professional association with the royal family resulted in her exile following the French Revolution of 1789. However, this connection allowed for her continued success abroad. While in Russia at the court of Catherine the Great, the artist completed a portrait of Ivan Shuvalov, founder of the Russian Academy of Arts.