Sunday, 20 December 2015

Sunday 20th December - Portrait of Mme X

Goodness me, it is dark this morning, but I suppose we are a day away from the solstice and the shortest day of the year.  After that, I can get the seed catalogues out and plan my garden for the year ahead.  Anyway, today's picture is one of the most jolly you'll see anywhere...

Portrait of Mme X (1884) Marie Bashkirtseff
While not an instantly glamorous canvas, only in shades of brown and grey, there is a warmth and beauty to today's muff wearer, the mysterious Mme X, as painted by the Ukrainian-born artist Marie Bashkirtseff.  Bashkirtseff studied in Paris and was openly critical of the way that many prestigious art schools did not accept female students, and that she, as a woman artist, did not have the same freedoms as her male counterparts.  She petitioned her fellow students at the Academie Julian to be allowed to draw from male models and the result of her actions can be seen in her victorious picture of her doing just that (well, after a fashion...)

In the Studio (1881)
Marie is the figure in the blue apron in the middle
Our Mme X with her muff is, I think, the same woman in another of Bashkirtseff's paintings...

Woman Smiling (1883)
I rather like Mme X as she seems to be a happy sort indeed and that is a hell of a corsage she is wearing.  Anyway, back to Marie Bashkirtseff and her most famous picture is The Meeting which hangs in the Musee d'Orsay...

A Meeting (1884)
A Meeting seems a fairly straightforward painting at first glance: a group of boys gather round an elder boy and listen to him intently.  It appears to be a typical Victorian image of childhood, but a note of disquiet is introduced by the retreating female figure on the right. It is suggested it is a painting about the exclusion Bashkirtseff felt as a woman in the male art world. Even we the viewer are excluded from what the elder boy is showing or discussing with his friends, so we share the girl's exclusion.
Self Portrait (1880)
Unfortunately there is no happy ending to this story as Marie Bashkirtseff died at the tender age of 25 of tuberculosis and is buried in Cimetière de Passy in Paris.  Her tomb is a full-size artists' studio that has been declared a historic monument by the French government.  That's style for you...
Bashkirtseff tomb, Cimetière de Passy
As today is Sunday and it is going to be hellish at the shops, here's another free pressie for you, dear Reader.  Due to the wonders of the internet, you can read the diary that Marie Bashkirtseff left absolutely free of charge by going here.  Hurrah!
See you tomorrow...

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Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx