During the days of Louis XIV, smiling - in real life and in portraiture - was considered gauche, not least because dental care was lacking. Then one smile sparked a revolution.
In the fall of 1787, the art establishment found itself shaken by a
portrait hung in the Louvre by Elizabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun. Her sin?
The smile depicted on her visage was not of the accepted tight-lipped,
subtle variety, but rather portrayed her with mouth ajar, revealing her pearly whites. This seemingly innocuous painting was so disruptive and subversive in a France on the cusp of the Ancient Regime's demise.