HD - 2015 - French - 90 min & 2 x 52 min - Color

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun: A Touch of Grace

Le fabuleaux Elisabeth Vigée le Brun peintre de Marie- Antoinette (original title)

A film by Arnaud Xainte

« Between two centuries as at the confluence of two rivers». These words of Chateaubriand seem to be written for Louise-Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun. Born in 1755 and died in 1842, Louise-Elisabeth lived numerous and various periods of time, thanks to her exceptional longevity.

Official painter of Marie Antoinette, whose portrait she painted 30 times, she knew eight political systems, two revolutions, painted more than 660 portrayals, and received in her salon the whole political and artistic intelligentsia of the late 18th century until 1840. She fled the revolution in October 1789, for a 13 year long exile, going through Italia, Russia, Austria, England, and Switzerland. Everywhere, she was received by all the greatest courts of Europe and, besides posterity, was paid the highest fees of her time. The freedom of Louise Elisabeth, nonetheless an 18th century woman, echoes strongly with today’s women struggle, being the first French female painter to be recognized around the world.

The embodiment of the character by fiction appeared to us as the right choice obviously. Interviews of speakers are mixed with fictional scenes. These moments are an evocation of times and places when and where Louise Elisabeth lived, enlightening personal and historical events. In order to make the spectators feel the modernity of this character, the director used also some special effects: we zoom into the canvas so that we understand in a better way the meaning and the structure; engravings are animated; matte paintings remind us the poetry of the artist’s travels; several sequences mix fiction and painting.

EVL used fresh & bright colors and always painted her models in a graceful way, contrasting with the heavy settings usually employed at the time and the film pays homage to her unusual technique at the time.

Arnaud Xainte


After graduating from a business school in France in 1989, Arnaud Xainte entered Paradis Films in 1996 where he took part of several productions as a financial and legal advisor (Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love and 2046, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Millenium Mambo or Palme d’or The Eternity and one Day by the late Theo Angelopoulos). He joined Illégitime Défense as a partner in 2001 and after producing for almost 10 years, decided to combine filming with his personal taste for art and culture. In 2013, he directed Jean Cocteau I’ll Stay with you and Cartier the Little Red Box, where he started a fruitful partnership with Jean-Frédéric Thibault as a co-writer. In 2014, Rita Hayworth: and Men Created a Goddess give them the opportunity to create a series of American stars portraits (Ava Gardner is now in production). Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, a Touch of Grace took them to a higher level of budget and challenge, with a large part of re-enactment. 

Arnaud Xainte

Original language: French
Produced by: Illégitime Défense