Now, back to the series in this blog about women artists in history.
At the time of the French revolution, there had been a link between classicists in art and political revolutionaries: in the sense that artists expressed the ideals of simplicity of the ancient Roman republic, example for the new French republic, in contrast to the opulence of the royal court.
As the nineteenth century progressed, there were changes in both politics and art.
The bourgeoisie progressed from being a class in opposition to a ruling class.
In revolutionary movements, there was a shift from the bourgeoisie to the working class, as seen in the Paris Commune of 1871.
At the same time, the role of classicism in art changed.
More and more, it became a conservative pro establishment set of rules, seen as stifling by artists who wanted to innovate.
The second half of the nineteenth century brought new artistic movements to France, rebelling against the rules of classicism and the Academy of Arts.
Like Russian painter Ilya Repin, Courbet and Manet were sympathizers of the Paris Commune.
In the days of the Commune, Courbet was chair of a commission on art which abolished the Academy.
Then, the classicist style monument of Emperor Napoleon III, the Vendôme column, was destroyed.
After the bloody suppression of the Commune, Courbet’s Rightist enemies accused him of personal responsibility for this, with faked photographs as ‘evidence’; and he had to flee to Switzerland.
The nineteenth century saw also the rise of the women’s movement.
The number of women artists increased, compared to previous centuries.
After these two, this Academy admitted no women members until 1923, according to Elke Linda Buchholz; or until 1936, according to Wikipedia.
Only in 1897, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris admitted women.
What did (male) supporters of innovation in art think of this innovation by women in society?
Some were sympathetic. Some, not all.
According to Joan Altabe:
Edgar Degas, a known male supremacist, saw women as “animals” with an “absence of all feeling in the presence of art.”
However, the Impressionist movement did include women.
Even Degas made an exception to his rules when he invited US American artist living in Paris, Mary Cassatt, to join the Impressionists.
Of course, the movement had also French women members.
Including Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet’s sister-in-law, who contributed nine works to the first Impressionists’ exhibition in 1874.
One of those was The Cradle, a portrait of her older sister Edma, also a painter; who, however, had stopped working since her marriage.
Another woman Impressionist was Eva Gonzalès.
Of a younger generation was Suzanne Valadon, born in 1865 into the working class.
She never had painting lessons, but learned about art as an Impressionist painters‘ model.
One year older than Valadon was sculptor Camille Claudel.
Her involvement with colleague Auguste Rodin helped her at first, but ultimately brought her tragedy.
Exhibition about women impressionists: here.
Later: The New York Times on feminist art: here.
Pre Raphaelite British artist Evelyn De Morgan: here.
NEW YORK— “Luminous Modernism: Scandinavian Art Comes to America 1912,” at New York City’s Scandinavia House, may at first look uninspiring to eyes accustomed to the fireworks of Abstract Expressionism and the conceptual ravishments of contemporary art. But 100 years ago, this very same exhibition of quiet, shining landscapes and Post-Impressionist portraits dazzled American audiences and impressed artists from Marsden Hartley to Alfred Stieglitz. Given the chance to reveal itself, “Luminous Modernism” may just move today’s viewers in the same way: here.