Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Women's ART History Month - Part I

Women of the Impressionist Movement

As surprising as it may seem today, France, long the bastion for great and avant garde art, was one of the the very last Western European countries to raise the strictures placed on women artists. Most of the other countries, including Sweden, Denmark, England, Germany and Russia, already had state-sponsored schools open to women. During this time, the only way a woman in France could received traning in art is if she had the means to pay for private lessons.

Berthe Morisot

Even when France did open its Beaux Arts training to women, it was within limitations - no life drawing classes and separate classes for women. Then, there was the issue of what subjects women were considered seemly for women to paint. Hence, the subject of the women impressionists werscenes of domesticity, mothers with the children, portraiture and gardens. 

Within those restrictions, four women would surivive to be recognized to this day. They are: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Rosa Bonheur and Eva Gonzales.  (Others that might have had the talent quit upon marrying.)

BERTHE MORISOT established herself as a recognized artist. She married later in life to the brother of Edoard Manet, who encouraged her art. 

MARY CASSATT, an American who went to France for further training, never married. This was a big advantage in being accepted as a working artist and gave her a long career.

ROSA BONHEUR was trained in art by her father, who believed strongly in equality. Bonheur's first piece to win the coveted gold medal was "The Horse Fair." (below) She continued to paint animals and, in order to do that, she not only cut her hair short, but had police permission to wear pants into the stockyards!

EVA GONZALES trained with Manet. He proved to be a heavy influence in her works. She followed Manet in also never showing her work at exhibitions, making her the least known of the Fab Four. Also, her career was cut short by death during childbirth when she was 34 - a all too common outcome in those days.

The thing that all four women had in common was the money, not only for private lessons, but to afford the supplies and time to make art. It begs the question, how many others might there have been if schooling and materials had been more available...

1 comment:

  1. I was particularly taken by the idea that Rosa Bonheur had to have police approval to wear pants. WOW!