The painting in front of us features a smartly dressed young woman with a fairly serious expression. Her daughter looks far more comfortable, smiling as she stares directly at the viewer. Mother is wearing a delicate, pretty blue dress with white decorative frills, whilst the daughter is in a simple white dress. They have a small cloth wrapped around them which perhaps was chosen by the artist as a preference to displaying more of the chair on which they are sat. At the time of this painting, the artist had just recently been exiled to Brussels as part of his punishment for supporting the now deposed Napoleon. Despite being relocated for, ultimately, the rest of his days, he would still manage to produce some of his best work whilst here. Portraits were still being requested, despite his lack of popularity in some regions of Europe and he was able to continue to make a living and expand his own already impressive oeuvre.
The painting itself now resides at the National Gallery in London, UK. It is one of the few paintings from this artist to reside in the UK, with most remaining in his native France. There are also several more to be found dotted around public institutions within the United States. Visitors to the National Gallery will be able to view a number of significant French artists besides David, such as Georges Seurat (Bathers at Asnières), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (Madame Moitessier) and Claude Lorrain (Seaport with the Embarkation of Saint Ursula). The Louvre hosts a number of David's career highlights within a series of rooms devoted to the Neo-classical art movement.
Portrait of the Countess Vilain XIIII and her Daughter remains a delightful piece but cannot be considered one of the artist's highlights. From his impressive oeuvre, one would probably be more likely to mention the likes of The Death of Marat, Napoleon Crossing the Alps and The Oath of Horatii as amongst his most respected and artistically influential paintings. Those three capture an artist at the peak of his powers and offer a variation in the qualities that he displayed in the late 18th and early 19th century. He became known as the finest Neo-classical artist of the period and starred within French art alongside the likes of Chardin, Theodore Gericault and also his one-time tutor, Francois Boucher who unfortunately had to move him onto another teacher because their own styles were far too different for the partnership to be effective.