Anne Vallayer-Coster

Portrait of a Violinist

  • Anne Vallayer-Coster (French, 1744–1818)
  • Oil on canvas, 116 x 96 cm
  • 1773
  • Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 
The Artist

Anne Vallayer-Coster was the second of four daughters born to her mother, a painter of miniatures; and her father, a goldsmith. Like other women artists of the time, she received training from her father, Joseph Vallayer. But she had other mentors as well, including the botanical specialist Madeleine Basseport, and the celebrated marine painter Joseph Vernet.

Vallayer-Coster was elected to the French academy of art in 1770, at the age of just 26. This was a remarkable accomplishment; she was one of only four women accepted into the Académie before the French Revolution.

The artist, who in 1781 married Jean-Pierre-Silvester Coster, specialized primarily in floral painting. Thanks to her effective use of color and skillful illusionism, her still lifes were much in demand, though as a genre, still lifes ranked relatively low in the subject matter hierarchy of the time. Innovatively, Vallayer-Coster deliberately incorporated objects more usually associated with historical painting into her paintings. She also painted portraits, which led to commissions from the king’s aunts and from Queen Marie Antoinette.

Learn more about Vallayer-Coster’s painting Portrait of a Violinist: Nationalmuseum

Past exhibitions featuring Anne Vallayer-Coster:

In 2002–3, the Dallas Museum of Art organized the exhibition “Anne Vallayer-Coster: Painter to the Court of Marie-Antoinette.” Other venues for the show included the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Frick Collection, and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nancy. Exhibition


Books about Anne Vallayer-Coster


Anne Vallayer-Coster: Painter to the Court of Marie Antoinette, edited by Eik Kahng and Marianne Roland Michel; with contributions by Colin B. Bailey, Claire Barry, Laurent Hugues, and Melissa Hyde

Learn more online about Anne Vallayer-Coster:

Guest post on the Art Herstory blog:

Seductive Surfaces: Anne Vallayer-Coster’s Vase of Flowers and Conch Shell at the Met, by Dr. Kelsey Brosnan

Neil Jeffares’ Dictionary of pastellists before 1800: Explore >

A Space of Their Own: Explore >

The Kimbell Art Museum: Explore > 

National Museum of Women in the Arts: Explore > 

A Scholarly Skater Blog: Explore > 

Rutgers Art Review: Explore >















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