Friday, March 14, 2014

Overcoming All Obstacles: The Women of the Académie Julian

A Book Review by Stephanie Deshpande

Overcoming All Obstacles: The Women of the Académie Julian by Gabriel P. Weisberg and Jane R. Becker describes the challenges women faced getting the equivalent art education as men in the late nineteenth century. During that time, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was the most prestigious art institution in Europe, but it did not accept women into its program until 1897. The Académie Julian, which was established in 1868 by Rodolphe Julian, served a unique purpose, to train women in the same academic fashion as men and to prepare them for entrance into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

    The women studying at the Académie Julian drew from nude models and studied under the most renowned instructors such as William Bouguereau, Henri Royer, Tony Jean-Paul Laurens, and Jules Lefebvre. Julian’s mission was to establish a good reputation for his students who would in turn generate a good reputation for his school. Cash prizes were awarded in order to encourage competition between students, and some of his best student’s works were entered into competitions under fictitious names, and received rave reviews.  

Maria Bashkirtseff, In the Studio, 1881
(image courtesy of the Art Renewal Center)

 One of Julian’s creative ideas was to encourage Bashkirtseff and another student to paint a scene of the studio. Bashirtseff describes her reaction to Julian's proposal in a journal entry: “'As for the subject, it does not fascinate me, but it may be very amusing; and then Julian is so taken with it, and so convinced. He quoted so many examples which had been successful. A woman’s studio had never been painted. Besides, as it would be an advertisement for him, he would do all in the world to give me the wonderful notoriety he speaks about.’ Not only would both works serve as advertisement for the crafty Julian, but Bashkirtseff’s contribution, in particular, would highlight the high society of the Julian Academy’s students.”(Becker 1999:105)

    There were numerous successful women artists who excelled there; of them were Cecilia Beaux, Elizabeth Gardner, Marie Bashkirtseff, Louise Breslau, Anna Bilinska-Bohdanowicz, Rose-Marie Guillaume, and Anna Klumpke.

In the Woods by Elizabeth Gardner 

(image courtesy of the Art Renewal Center)

What makes this book fascinating is the documentation of the social dynamics at the Academy. Weisberg not only spotlights their talent as artists, but also gives you a feel for their background and motivations. The book explains the rivalry between Marie Bashkirtseff and Louise Breslau. Bashkirtseff was very jealous of Breslau, and wrote about her feelings often in her journal. The caricatures of Bashkirtseff and Breslau reveal how the other students perceived them – capturing their individual determination and ambitious demeanors.

Detail of caricatures: Artist Unknown, Mlle. Marie Bashkirtseff, 1879.
Pencil sketch (left) Artist Unknown, Mlle. Beslau, 1878. Pencil sketch (right)


Louise Breslau, The Sculptor Jean Carries in his Atelier, 1886(image courtesy of the Art Renewal Center)

Marie Bashkirtseff, Le Meeting, 1884

Bashkirtseff and Breslau came from very different backgrounds that influenced their subject matter. Bashkirtseff, who was very wealthy, chose to paint street scenes of the poor while Breslau painted scenes from her daily life.

    This is an important book to read to discover what it meant to be a women artist in the 1800's, and how Julian's Académie gave women the opportunity and training to compete with the prominent male artists of 
the time.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Juliette Aristides…Contemporary Classical Master

When the New Media Relations Committee took over the job of creating the Cecilia Beaux Forum blog, we discovered that there was already a blog that had been created years ago. It was chock full of these interesting articles on Women Artists of the past and present, written over the years by members of the CBF Literature Committee, and published in the Art of the Portrait Members Journal.

Instead of hiding them in the archives of the new blog, we decided to introduce them now and again so everyone can enjoy and learn. 

We present an article about a Contemporary Master, Juliette Aristides.  Aristides draws and paints exquisitely in the classical tradition and teaches at the Aristides Atelier, located in Gage Academy of Art in Seattle Washington.



By Pat Aube Gray
The Art of the Portrait Journal
Issue No. 35, 1st Quarter 2007

The Artist by Juliette Aristides

Born in 1971 in South Africa, Juliette Aristides immigrated with her parents at age two to the Pennsylvania countryside.  She recalls spending more time in her imagination during her childhood than in reality.  “Drawing,” she says, “gave me a way of engaging.”

An  extraordinary draughtsman, Aristides is the product of many years of study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the more traditional National Academy of Design, and the studios of Myron Barnstone, Atelier (formerly Atelier Lack), Jacob Collins, and the Water Street Atelier.  The artist has embraced the methods of working through the skill and craft building disciplines of creating art under the tutelage of a single instructor.

Today this shy, though highly focused and driven, young mother of three is an accomplished and highly acclaimed artist who founded the four-year Aristides Classical Drawing Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, Washington in 1999.  Gary Faigin, Artistic Director at Gage, states Juliette “…possesses a rare and critically important ability to inspire her students to extremely high levels of effort and productivity…” and, “sets extremely high standards for accomplishment.”

The Bowl by Juliette Aristides

Aristides has authored Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice, which was released in the fall of 2006.  In 2007 her book, Classical Painting Atelier was released and then in 2011 she published Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier. For the practicing artist, student, and teacher, these tomes provide a strong framework in the disciplines of the classical tradition, and an insightful history of its development, demise, and current rebirth.  They also contain the author’s persuasive, philosophical, and logical discourse supporting the belief that to achieve artistic greatness we must understand and build upon knowledge of the achievements already attained throughout art history.