Sunday, 22 November 2015

ART SUNDAY - MARIE BRACQUEMOND

“Impressionism has produced ... not only a new, but a very useful way of looking at things. It is as though all at once a window opens and the sun and air enter your house in torrents” - Marie Bracquemond

Marie Bracquemond (née Quivoron-Pasquiou), was a French painter, printmaker and designer, who came from a family of artists. She was the wife of Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914), a printmaker, designer, painter and writer, and the mother of Pierre Bracquemond (1870-1926), a painter. After a difficult start in life, she began to study drawing at Étampes, near Paris. She took advice from Ingres but never received any formal teaching.

Admitted to the Salon from 1857, she was commissioned by the State to copy pictures in the Louvre. There she met Félix Bracquemond in about 1867 and married him on 5 August 1869. She was involved in her husband’s work for the Haviland Limoges factory and produced in particular several dishes and a wide panel of ceramic tiles entitled the Muses, shown at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878; the sketch for this was shown at the Impressionist Exhibition of 1879 and was greatly admired by Degas.

Originally very much influenced by Ingres and then by Alfred (Emile-Léopold) Stevens, her style of painting changed completely c. 1880 as a consequence of her admiration for Renoir and Monet and subsequently because of advice from Gauguin. The few pictures surviving from this period illustrate her conversion to a clearly Impressionist style, comparable to that of Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt. Examples include “The Lady in White” (1880; Cambrai, Musée Municipal), “On the Terrace at Sèvres” (c. 1880; Geneva, Petit Palais) and “Afternoon Tea” (c. 1880; Paris, Petit Palais).

After exhibiting at the Salon in 1874 and 1875, she took part in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880 and 1886. In spite of the support of friends such as Gustave Geffroy, her husband was against any broadening of her career, and confined to Sèvres she produced only a limited amount of work.

According to her son Pierre, Félix Bracquemond was often resentful of his wife, brusquely rejecting her critique of his work, and refusing to show her paintings to visitors. In 1890, Marie Bracquemond, worn out by the continual household friction and discouraged by lack of interest in her work, abandoned her painting except for a few private works. She remained a staunch defender of Impressionism throughout her life, even when she was not actively painting.

The retrospective exhibition of 1919 at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, included 90 paintings (to a large extent small sketches), 34 watercolours and 9 engravings. She also produced ceramics and several drawings for ‘La Vie Moderne’ (1879-80). With Morisot, Gonzalès and Cassatt, she was one of the greatest female representatives of Impressionism.

The painting of 1887, above is from a private collection and is entitled “Under the Lamp”. Bracquemond has captured an intimate moment of a couple at the dinner table, the light of the lamp lending an added dimension of cosiness and intimacy to the scene. The subdued lighting has not affected the luminous qualities of her colours. The composition is finely balanced although seemingly asymmetric and the overall effect is one that draws the viewer in, participating in the impression of the moment.

2 comments:

  1. I had never heard of this artist, thank you for the introduction.

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