The careers of some women artists are intimately linked to those os their spouses. This is the case with Elizabeth Jane Gardner, wife of the famous painter and teacher, William-Adolpe Bouguereau. Gardner once declared, “I know I am censured for not more boldly asserting my individuality, but I would rather be known as the best imitator of Bouguereau than nobody!” Like many of her peers, she overcame formidable obstacles to achieve artistic success: she disguised herself as a man so that she could gain access to life drawing classes with nude models, she actively cultivated connections with powerful men, and she weathered sexist accusations that her husband was the painter fo her works.
La Confidence (1880) was Photographed as Part of The Exhibit Women Artists In Paris The Clark Institute, Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Marie Bashkirtseff (1858 – 1884) was one of the most outspoken and persistent advocates for a woman’s art academy in Paris. The dynamic scene on In The Studio (1881) depicts the artist (foreground, tipping her palette forward) alongside her peers at the Académie Julian as they work from a draped male model. Founded by Rodolphe Julian in 1868, the Académie originally permitted men and women to work side by side from a live nude model, but as news of assumed impropriety spread, Julian created separate studios for men and women. Julian’s school was one of a handful in Paris to provide women with rigorous artistic training. Dying of tuberculosis at the age of 25, Bashkirtseff lived just long enough to emerge as an intellectual in Paris in the 1880s.
Photographed as Part of The Exhibit Women Artists In Paris at The Clark Institute, Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Throughout the 1800s, playing the piano was considered obligatory for the educated and upper class, and many artists depicted girls and women at the piano. Although little is known about the relationship between Berthe Morisot and her subject, Lucie León spent the majority of her childhood training to be a concert pianist. Yet rather than depicting León from behind or in profile — as so many of her male peers do in their portrayals of female pianists — Morisot renders the young artist mid-recital without any visible sheet music, a virtuoso in command of both her instrument and our gaze.
Lucie León at the Piano (1892) was Photographed as Part of The Exhibit Women Artists In Paris at The Clark Institute, Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
With confident handling of a limited palette, Eva Gonzalez (1849 – 1883) elevates a pair of evening slippers into a mysterious and enigmatic portrait of modernity for The Pink Slippers (1880). A crucial element of a woman’s wardrobe, footwear was often fetishized because shoes and slippers were not meant to be seen, hidden as they war under voluminous dresses. Gonzalez emphasizes the intimate nature of these accessories by isolating them within dramatic play of light and shadow. An ethereal reflection is visible on the polished surface upon which the shoes rest.
Photographed as Part of The Exhibit Women Artists In Paris, on View Through September 3rd, 2018 at The Clark Institute, Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.