In the 1780s she was the official portraitist of Marie-Antoinette, an association that forced her into exile at the outbreak of the French Revolution.
Her subsequent travels took her to many parts of Italy, to Vienna, Russia, Berlin and eventually to London, where she lived from 1803-05.
It is known that she returned to Paris in July 1805. Around this time, she completed this 18 x 14in (46 x 35cm), pastel portrait of an unidentified Young Woman with a Veil which is one of the many lots in the sale of March 26-27 at Metz in Heidelberg.
The extensive inscription on the reverse une Étude d’après nature a Mr De Cort R.A. de Paris et Peintre de S.A.S. Mgr Le Prince De Condé / un Souvenir de la Part de Madame Le Bru… / Peint par Madame Le Brun 22 juillet 1805 reveals the identity of its first owner. This was the Flemish painter Hendrik de Cort (1742-1810), who was appointed painter to Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince of Condé in 1781.
Some 10 years later de Cort moved to London, where he often exhibited at the Royal Academy and it was there that he probably met Vigée-Lebrun. In more recent times, the pastel belonged to a collector near Lucca in northern Italy, the contents of whose villa were auctioned in Rome in 1977.
This time around, it is being offered in Heidelberg without reserve.