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A spotlight on outstanding women artists and their works in the Royal Collection

Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818)

Tortoiseshell box with still-life 1771 - 1817

RCIN 22993

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Admitted to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1770 at the age of 26, Anne Vallayer-Coster was one of only four female artists to enter the Parisian institution before the French Revolution. Vallayer-Coster was the daughter of a goldsmith and learned painting from her father, rather than through a formal apprenticeship, although she did study informally with the marine painter Joseph Vernet and the botanist Madeleine Basseport.

As a woman at the Académie, she was excluded from studying figure painting and concentrated on still-life painting, portraits and genre scenes, considered more suitable to her sex. Nevertheless, her work in flower painting won great praise for its realism and by 1779 she came to the notice of Marie-Antoinette. Her work appears on a number of small boxes of this type.