Thursday, November 29, 2012
Eva Gonzalès (1849–1883) & Female Impressionists in Paris
Eva Gonzalez was the daughter of the novelist Emmanuel Gonzalez, a Frenchman of Spanish descent. She was taught by Charles Chaplin who was also Mary Cassatt's teacher. She met Manet in 1869, and was to become his student, colleague and model. Most historians believe that women painters working in France at the end of the 19th-century created works that were as innovative as those of their male counterparts; but that they were marginalized because of the prejudice of the strict social rules for their gender.
Édouard Manet (1832-1883) 1870 Portrait of Eva Gonzales in Manet's Studio
As they began painting in the last quarter of the 19th-century, Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), Eva Gonzalès (1849–1883), & Marie Bracquemond (1840–1916) were subjected to critical ambivalence & lacked major public exhibitions.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Most believe that this is a Self Portrait
An upper-class woman living in Paris in the late 19th century was subject to a strict code of social conduct. An unmarried woman could not leave her home without a chaperone, nor could she frequent a café or the theater by herself without risk to her reputation.
These women were meant to know their place, which was not to compete in the man’s world. As a result, women were encouraged to develop interests in the decorative arts, music, & painting. These less serious pursuits would be practiced in the company of other women. Learning these arts were meant to refine a lady's taste rather than train her for a career. And the art of these women could not, then, threaten their male counterparts.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Portrait de Madame E.G.
As they shaped their unique careers & artistic styles, Morisot, Cassatt, Gonzalès, & Bracquemond negotiated not only the personal challenges of everyday life but also those dictated by the conventional ideas of acceptable behavior for women at the time.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Portrait of a Woman in White.
In 1874, the group of artists known as the Impressionists, whose painting style featured quick, visible brush strokes, bold colors, & an emphasis on the play of natural light, mounted the 1st of 8 privately organized exhibitions.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Roses in a Glass
Compared to previous painting movements of the 19th-century where canvases were large & themes were heroic, historical or religious, the Impressionist style encouraged smaller paintings which were easier to transport & often painted outdoors. Women did not need to be in a formal class to capture the popular Impressionist subjects of family, children, or friends & landscapes of the nearby garden or countryside.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Secretly
Because of her family access to the Impressionists, Berthe Morisot was the only woman to exhibit in the 1st Impressionist exhibition, & continued to show in the next 7 of the 8 Impressionist exhibitions. Married to the brother of Manet & close friends with Renoir, Morisot became one of the most prolific members of the Impressionist circle.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Reading in the Forest 1879
Pennsylvania-born Mary Cassatt was the only American in the Impressionist circle. After studying painting in Philadelphia & throughout Europe, she settled permanently in Paris in 1875. She became close friends with Degas & exhibited in 4 of the Impressionist exhibitions. While Cassatt personally rejected the norms of marriage & motherhood, she professionally adopted exactly those themes, painting women as “Subjects, not objects.”
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) ) Woman in White
Gonzoles was Manet's only student and modeled frequently for several members of the Impressionist school. It was unthinkable at the time for a young girl of good family to attend the atelier of Edouard Manet, who had shaken the Establishment with his painting Olympia, exhibited at the Salon of 1863. With this work, rejected at the time, the artist opened the way for the Impressionists and became the precursor of modern art. Yet Éva became his student, his only pupil, in February 1869. Until 1872, she was strongly influenced by Manet but later developed her own, more personal style. Her work was exhibited at the offices of the art review L'Art in 1882, and at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1883. In 1879, Gonzalès married the engraver Henri Guérard. The unfinished painting Donkey Ride features her husband and her sister. Her career was cut short when she died in childbirth at the age of thirty-four, six days after the death of her teacher, Manet. Although Eva Gonzalès’ died while still young in childbirth, she became known for her characteristic style for portraiture. Manet chose Gonzalès as his only formal pupil. Like her teacher, she never exhibited with the Impressionists but was considered a member of their circle. Gonzales died just months after Manet’s death
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) White Shoes
Marie Bracquemond’s career fell victim to her envious husband, the less-talented artist Felix Bracquemond. Unlike the other women, Bracquemond was not wealthy & was largely self-taught. She became acquainted with Degas, Renoir, & Monet, after her designs for porcelain attracted Degas’ attention. Bracquemond exhibited in 3 of the Impressionist exhibitions, before her husband‘s jealousy drove her to stop painting by 1890.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Morning Awakening or The Dream, detail, 1877-78
These women artists painted other females not as sexual objects, but as individuals. Reclining women, usually portrayed by male artists nude, sexual, & provocative, received honorable portrayals from female artists. Eva Gonzales‘ portrait of her sister Jeanne in Morning Awakening depicts her fully clothed, staring off into space, as if she just woke up. She is in her own bed with no sexual connotation to her pose. Gonzalaes was challenging the age old motive for painting reclining women.
Eva Gonzalès (French artist, 1849–1883) Self Portrait
Information on these 4 female artists in Paris from 2008 exhibit at the Legion of Honor, de Young Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco.