(December 18, 1768 – October 8, 1826), Marie-Guillemine Benoist was a French neoclassical, historical and genre painter who gravitated toward mythological feminist subject matter. Her training as an artist began in 1781 under Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.
In 1800, she exhibited Portrait d’une négresse in the Salon. Six years previously, slavery had been abolished, and this image became a symbol for women’s emancipation and black people’s rights. This picture was acquired by Louis XVIII for France in 1818. Other honors came to her; she was awarded a Gold Medal in the Salon of 1804, and received a governmental allowance. During this time she opened an atelier for the artistic training of women.
Her career was harmed by political developments, however, when her husband, the convinced royalist count Benoist, was nominated in the Conseil d’État during the post-1814 monarchy come-back called the Bourbon Restoration. Despite being at the height of her popularity, she has to abandon her career, both painting and exposing, due to her devoir de réserve and the strongly enforced conservatism of the reactionary regime.