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Eva Gonzales – The Forgotten Female Impressionism Painter

Eva Gonzalès (April 19, 1849—May 6, 1883) was a French  painter in the Impressionism art movement. 

Gonzalès was born in Paris into a wealthy & educated family. Her father was a writer and her mother a musician.

When she turned 16, Gonzales began professional art training. Like all the other female Impressionists, Gonzales could not attend the prestigious art school, Ecole des Beaux-Arts. This school did not accept women at all!

Fortunate for her, having upper-class status gave her the opportunity to pursue her artistic career privately. She had the financial resources to hire the best teachers.

Eva Gonzales painting
Painting by Eva Gonzales [Public Doman]

Edouard Manet Recognizes Her Incredible Talent

In 1869, Gonzales met the painter, Édouard Manet, an active member of the impressionism art movement. Manet immediately recognized her talent and took her on as his private student, much to Berthe Morisot’s annoyance!

Having Manet as her teacher, brought Gonzales into frequent contact Berthe Morisot, who was eight years older and already an accomplished painter. Through remaining letters, we know that Morisot was always jealous of the attention Manet gave to Gonzales.

Gonzales was the only student Manet ever accepted. Manet painted a portrait of Gonzales, completed in March 1870. He exhibited that painting at the Salon in that year.

Portrait of Eva Gonzales - Painting by Édouard Manet
Portrait of Eva Gonzales – Painting by Édouard Manet [Public Domain}

Being Manet’s student, exposed Gonzales to the avante garde scene in Paris. She met and befriended many of the impressionist painters.

Gonzales viewed the way the impressionists challenged the artistic establishment. On the sidelines, she saw how they repeatedly, submitted daring, unconventional paintings to the official Salon. She did not exhibit with them as she saw how they were always rejected.

Gonzalès also never exhibited in any of the Impressionism art movement exhibitions. However, the impressionists had a huge impact on her painting style.

She married a friend of Manet, Henri Charles Guérard, who was a fairly famous and celebrated French engraver and lithographer. The couple socially mixed with many painters, including Paul Cézanne.

Gonzales’s Painting Style & Subject Matter

Eva Gonzales, like all the Impressionists, sometimes ventured outside to paint plein-air. However she rarely painted landscapes. Like the female impressionists, Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, Gonzales’s choice of subject matter was almost exclusively of women and children.

Eva Gonzales pastel artwork
Pastel Portrait by Eva Gonzales [Public Domain]

She often used her family and female friends as models. They either posed for her or she painted them as they were busy in their everyday lives.

Unfortunately, her life and artistic career ended early. Gonzales died at the young age of 34 from childbirth complications. Ironically, her death was five days after the death of her teacher and friend, Edouard Manet.

In the beautiful Montmartre cemetery in Paris, you can find the grave of Eva Gonzales.

Museums in Paris

The artworks she left behind are small in number, only around 120 paintings. Private collectors own most of these paintings.

However, the Marmottan Monet Art Museum in Paris displays quite a few of her paintings.

You can also view a couple of Gonzales’s paintings at the magnificent Impressionist Museum – Musee D’Orsay.

Another painting of Gonzales’s is on show at the Petit Palais.

Eva Gonzales painting
Painting by Eva Gonzales

​Read About The Female Impressionists Forgotten ​By the Art Historians