Vigée-Le Brun was barely nineteen when she captured this young woman, just a year younger than her, for posterity. Even then, her work showed a profound artistic maturity that resulted in her becoming Marie-Antoinette's preferred portrait painter in 1778.
Marie-Louise de Robien came from a noble Breton family and became the sister-in-law of the famous Comte de Mirabeau when she married in 1788. Posing playing the guitar, she is depicted with an almost disconcerting sobriety, with no finery or formalities. Her face, though not beautiful, betrays a fragility and melancholy that arouse the viewer's empathy. This sense of sadness is reflected in the palette, with shades of grey and white used throughout the painting. Vigée Le Brun adopted this same seemingly simple style when she painted Marie-Antoinette several years later.