Why Has Marie Bracquemond’s Name Faded into Obscurity?
Marie Bracquemond is virtually an unknown name compared to all the impressionst artists.
In 1928, French art historian Henri Focillon wrote that there were three ”grande dames” of Impressionism: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt and Marie Bracquemond. Why have we not heard of her? What happened that she barely made it as a footnote in the history of impressionism? Read on….
Marie Anne Carolyn Quivoron was her maiden name. As a young girl, she already had an interest in art. She took art lessons as a teenager and progressed well. In 1857 Marie submits a painting to the Salon and it is accepted. This is huge achievement for any painter, and in particular for a young female artist.
Scorned as a Female Artist
Marie becomes a student of the highly regarded Ingres. However, Ingres scorns and ridicules her because she wants to be a female artist .
“He wished to impose limits. He would assign to them [women] only the painting of flowers, of fruits, of still lifes, portraits and genre scenes… I wish to work at painting, not to paint some flowers, but to express those feelings that art inspires in me.”
Unfortunately it is not the last time Marie struggles with domineering men. Eventually her promising career will end because of another.
She meets her husband, a fellow artist
Frustrated with Ingres, Marie leaves his studio and starts working independently. She receives commissions and her beautiful paintings start getting attention.The director of the French museums offers her commissions to create special copies of the Old Masters exhibited in the Louvre.
It is in the Louvre that she meets a fellow artist, Felix Bracquemond who she eventually marries.
Marie Braquemond’s Developing Career
After marriage, Marie and her husband worked together. Marie also regularly submits paintings to the Paris Salon starting from 1864.
Bracquemond meets Monet & Degas
At some stage in her life Marie meets the emerging impressionist artists Monet and Degas. Their use of colours and brush strokes interest her and she adopts these ideas. Her style, as a result, dramatically changes.
By the 1880s, the impressionist artists include her into their inner circle. Marie Bracquemond joins the Impressionist artists in their exhibitions in 1879, 1880 and 1886 and has some of her works featured in La Vie Moderne in 1879 and 1880.
Her painting styles are evolving and becoming increasingly more vibrant in color. Part of this transformation was also under the influence of Gauguin who she met in 1886, through her husband.
Her Resentful Husband
As Marie Bracquemond continues to develop with the impressionist artists, her husband Felix is becoming more and more critical of her art. He detests the impressionist movement and is unhappy that his wife is aligning herself with the impressionists.
According to their only son, Pierre, Felix actively resented her work and her success. Marie Bracquemond stops painting and exhibiting with the other impressionist artists in 1890, acquiescing to the unrelenting pressure and badgering from her husband. Felix Bracquemond, her husband, successfully buried her career.
Forgotten and Ignored
Even though the impressionists highly regarded Marie Bracquemond, the art historians chose to ignore and forget her contributions to the impresssionism movement. Only in the past few decades, the art historians are starting to recognize her contributions.
Unfortunately, Bracquemond’s art is still hardly known, even though she was part of the impressionism inner-circle.
And as her son Pierre said
“None of her hopes had ever been realized. Always there was disappointment, and yearning, for she felt a victim of injustice and her despair brought her nothing.”
Many of Braquemeond’s paintings belong to private collections and cannot be viewed by the public.