Women artists at the beginning of the XIXe century

Women artists at the beginning of the XIX<sup>e</sup> century

  • Melancholy.

    CARPENTER Constance-Marie (1767 - 1849)

  • Self-portrait.

    LORIMIER Henriette (1775 - 1854)

  • Armand-Louis de Gontaut, Duke of Biron, General-in-Chief of the Army of the Rhine, circa 1792.

    REVEST Cornélie Louise (1795 - 1856)

  • Marshal Lannes.

    VOLPELIERE Julie (1790 - 1842)

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

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Title: Self-portrait.

Author : LORIMIER Henriette (1775 - 1854)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas, circa 1805.

Storage place: Magnin Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. de Girval

Picture reference: 95-000559 / 1938F498

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. de Girval

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Title: Armand-Louis de Gontaut, Duke of Biron, General-in-Chief of the Army of the Rhine, circa 1792.

Author : REVEST Cornélie Louise (1795 - 1856)

Creation date : 1835

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 73 - Width 57

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage place: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Army Museum

Picture reference: 06-512607 / 6574; Ea29; MV1205; INV7468; LP1655

Armand-Louis de Gontaut, Duke of Biron, General-in-Chief of the Army of the Rhine, circa 1792.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Army Museum

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Title: Marshal Lannes.

Author : VOLPELIERE Julie (1790 - 1842)

Creation date : 1834

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 74 - Width 59

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas Bust copy after the full-length portrait of Lannes by François Antoine Gérard (1760-1843)

Storage place: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Musée de l'Armésite web

Picture reference: 06-528021 / 10; EA 131

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Army Museum

Publication date: February 2009

Historical context

Around 1800, more and more women took part in French artistic life, driven by the common desire to play a role outside the family sphere and to escape the restricted status desired by the misogyny of the revolutionaries. However, at the end of the XVIIIe century, Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard in France had succeeded in entering certain academies of painting and had acquired an independence as well as a glory linked to their proper name and not to that of their husbands - these three women bear their maiden name followed by their married name.

The artists of the early 19th centurye century want to follow in their footsteps in order to exhibit beyond the private sphere. Formed for the most part by great names of antiquizing classicism such as David or Regnault, but also by other women such as Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, who liked to teach, they occupied an increasingly important place until the 1820s: Constance Mayer , a pupil of Pierre Paul Prud'hon, is one of those women painters who thus succeeded in making a name for themselves in painting. But history painting, the noblest, exclusively reserved for male painters, is still forbidden to them for reasons of convenience: a woman cannot represent a heroic nude. The success of these genres prized by amateurs could partly explain the greater visibility of women painters at the beginning of the 19th century.e century.

Image Analysis

Constance Charpentier is one of the most interesting women painters at the beginning of the XIXe century. A student of David and François Gérard among others, she was strongly inspired by the severe art of the late 18th century.e century. Melancholy, presented at the Salon in 1801, depicts a young woman in profile dressed in the antique style on a full moon evening. The attitude of the woman, whose limbs are relaxed and her eyes staring in the dark, is typical of the depiction of this feeling at the turn of the century and explains its success when it was presented at the Salon. Far from being passive like the woman she represented, Constance Charpentier did not hesitate to position herself as a history painter and to measure herself against criticism and male painters, since the same year François-André Vincent , one of the tenors of the return to antiquity, also presents a Melancholy (1801, museum of the castle of Malmaison).

Unlike Constance Charpentier, Henriette Lorimier assumes her role as a painter of portraits and anecdotal genre. In fact, in this self-portrait, made around 1805, the artist holds a palette in one hand and charcoal in the other. She imposes herself on the viewer in an interior that testifies to her social success. She wears an orange velvet dress, thus offering a glimpse of the fashion of the time; the very high waist is highlighted by medallions in the antique style. With the attributes of her function in her hands, she sketches another of her paintings, The foster goat, critical success at the Salon of 1804. Lorimier successfully exploits the anecdotal genre and shows all his talent as a portrait painter in this painting.

From the 1830s, the golden age of female painters in the early 19th centurye century is already over. The work of the Musée d'Histoire de France in Versailles enabled some of them, such as Cornélie Revest or Julie-Louise Volpelière, to continue to exist through copying. Indeed, putting their talent to copy that of another, these two students of Sérangéli present portraits of officers of the Empire, according to Georges Rouget for the first and François Gérard for the second. In his portrait of Marshal Lannes, Volpelière reveals all the finesse of his touch. Cornélie Revest, who herself runs a workshop for women, also creates a work of great freshness.

Interpretation

The artists of the early 19th centurye century, still influenced by the freedoms that their elders had won, that is to say of being able to freely exhibit at Salons without being part of an academy or an arts society, dare works in which they affirm their status of history painter like Constance Charpentier or who illustrate their success like Henriette Lorimier. Still judged in a spirit inherited from the Enlightenment, the woman artist, although often belittled by certain critics, managed to remain visible on the artistic scene until the 1820s.

If it was fashionable for a woman to take an interest in painting in the early 19th centurye century, the mentality of society after the Restoration restricts women even more to the family circle. Even though more and more of them are taking part in Salons, it is difficult for them to express their talent, as they only have access to amateur teaching, only receive orders for copies and have to endure harsh criticism. . The case of Marie Guillemine Benoist provides an example of this change, since, forced to give up her art by the position of high official of her husband, she exclaims: "But so many studies, so many efforts, a life of hard work, and after a long period of hardship, finally success! And then suddenly see it all as an object of shame! I couldn't bring myself to do it. But all is well so, let's not talk about it anymore; I became reasonable… ”After these pioneers, very few names marked the spirits, and the women of the second half of the XIXe century will have to require professional education to return to that golden age of the turn of the century.

  • women
  • neoclassicism
  • portrait
  • self-portrait
  • misogyny

Bibliography

WHITE Olivier, Portraits of women: artists and models at the time of Marie-Antoinette, Paris, Didier Carpentier, 2006.NOCHLIN Linda, SUTHERLAND HARRIS Ann, Women painters (1550-1950), Paris, Des Femmes, 1981.SOLOMON-GODEAU Abigail, Male Trouble: a representation in crisis, London, Thames and Hudson, 1997.

To cite this article

Saskia HANSELAAR, “Women artists at the beginning of the XIXe century "


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