Contemporary realism narrative paintings
Gabriela Dellosso, "The Burning of Adelaide Labille Guiard's Masterpiece (Self-Portrait)," oil, 70 x 105

At the 2020 Realism Live virtual art conference (celebrating contemporary realism in art), Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi announced the finalists and top winners of the Artist and Selfie Painting Competition, including Gabriela Dellosso, whose painting “The Burning of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Masterpiece” won in the “Best Painting of Historic Artist” category.

Enjoy the following conversation with Peter Trippi and Gabriela Dellosso in this interview transcription from the live awards ceremony (and watch the full ceremony and winner announcements below).

Peter Trippi: I want to explain, if I may, that we are blessed to have Gabriela Dellosso, who is not only on the faculty of Realism Live (2020), but also well-represented in this list of finalists. There’s a reason for that. I mentioned earlier that we had an openness for this competition: you could submit as many entries as you wished. Obviously, we were happy to consider them in the relevant categories. Gabriela Dellosso is renowned for her treatment of historical women artists who are depicted with her own face applied to the figure. I’m sure that Gabriela could explain much more precisely what this is, and what it’s about. We have written articles about it, and she is really so eloquent in her own interpretations.

Gabriela’s self-portrait as Evelyn De Morgan is an image that I happen to know a bit about. Here she is actually depicting the artist Evelyn De Morgan, who was a well-known British symbolist in the early 20th century. What’s interesting here is the idea of light falling on the face of the artist and light falling on that angelic figure on the easel. There’s a kind of spiritual aspect, which is highly relevant to that artist who was herself a spiritualist.

“The Burning of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Masterpiece” is a marvelous image set in the 18th century. This is a moment during the French Revolution, and it depicts a famous French artist, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, whose life work was destroyed during the revolution. It is a masterpiece — a truly complicated and masterfully handled picture.

Gabriela Dellosso: Hi, Peter. I’m so excited that you chose this painting. Thank you so much. This is a very special painting to me.

Peter: Tell us the story of the artists who inspired it.

Gabriela: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard is the artist that inspired it. My homage series, which is all self-portraits, was actually inspired by her. It happened one day when I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I discovered her amazing painting, the self-portrait with two pupils. And in that painting, she’s wearing a blue gown and her two pupils are standing behind her. It’s such a magnificent painting. I had been going to the Met since I was a little girl and this painting just caught my eye. I had never seen it before, so I went to read the label, and the label had this amazing story. It really resonated with me. She was part of the French Academy, the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture … she was inducted before the revolution. She was one of four women that were allowed at any one time in this Royal Academy. And so she was a teacher and she had her pupils who could not exhibit, so what she did was – it was a bit of a statement – she painted her pupils into the painting. It was exhibited at the Louvre in the great biennial exhibition of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.

Peter: In that regard, that picture that you’re describing is a touchstone not only of resistance, but also of female creativity. It really is an important thing that we should include in more art history books. I can see why that captured your imagination.

Gabriela: Yes, I just loved the story behind that painting. I thought about it for months. And that’s how I decided I was going to do a whole montage about these women painters that I had never heard of or learned about. I’ve had so many interesting things happen with Adélaïde. I had a book of about 100 biographies, and when I opened it, it opened directly to her biography. That is where I read the story of the burning of this painting. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a painting about it. So that’s a synopsis of how I learned about the burning of this painting. The subject of the painting was the brother of Louis the 16th, who was to be the future King Louis the 18th. So a painting by a female was destroyed, one that would have been a painting of a king also. It was very interesting.

Peter: Well, the way you’ve captured the emotion and the drama of that destruction is very powerful. And now that we know more about the pathos of the situation, it becomes even more compelling. This idea of vanishing, of the destruction of a great picture that breaks every artist’s heart. Thank you for sharing that story, and thank you, too, for making such a fine painting. Congratulations.

Watch the full online award ceremony below to see more winning paintings of contemporary realism:


Additional Contemporary Realism Works by Gabriela Dellosso

Contemporary realism portrait paintings
Gabriela Dellosso, “Homage to Lilla Cabot Perry (Self-Portrait),” oil, 10 x 8
Contemporary realism narrative paintings
Gabriela Dellosso, “Homage to Evelyn De Morgan (Self-Portrait),” oil, 40 x 40

Learn more about the contemporary realism of Gabriela Dellosso at

Power of Painting Self Portraits - Sadie Valeri

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