Cecilia Beaux

13 Jul

Cecilia Beaux, The Man With the Cat, Henry Sturgis Drinker (1898)

Note: click on any image to enlarge

Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) was one of the finest American portrait painters of the late 19th Century.  Like John Singer Sargent she was both a technical master and a sensitive human observer.  By 1902 Beaux was recognized as one of the top portrait painters in America.  She was awarded full membership in the male-dominated National Academy.

Cecilia Beaux, Self Portrait (1894)

Cecilia Beaux, Self Portrait (1925)

Cecilia Beaux was born in Philadelphia. After her mother’s early death and her French father’s departure to Europe, she was raised by her maternal grandmother and aunt. Her aunt, the artist Eliza Lewitt, greatly influenced Cecilia.  At sixteen she studied drawing under Catherine Drinker, an historical and religious painter whose brother later married Beaux’s sister.

Cecilia Beaux, New England Woman (1895)

Cecilia Beaux, Landscape With Farm Building (1888)

Cecilia Beaux, Half Tide, Annisquam River (1905)

In 1872 or 1873, she took instruction from Adolf Van der Whalen, a Dutch artist active in Philadelphia. She also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts between 1877 and 1879 under  the great Thomas Eakins — one of my all-time favorites.

Cecilia Beau, Georges Clemenceau (1920)

Cecilia Beaux, Lady George Darwin (1889)

In the late 1880s Beaux traveled to Europe and studied at the Academie Julian and the Colarrosi Academie under Bouguereau, Fleury, Dagnan-Bouveret, and Courtois.  She returned to America and became the first full-time female faculty member at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she taught drawing, painting and portraiture for some twenty years.

Cecilia Beaux, Sita and Sarita (c. 1893-94)

Cecilia Beaux, Alice Davison (c. 1909-10)

Cecilia Beaux, Mrs. Larz Anderson (1901)

I’m particularly taken with Beaux’s use of white and black in her portraiture.  Like Sargent she had a real feel for the drama of light and dark.  Her warm whites really captivate, don’t they?  The Man With The Cat is a great example, as are Lady George DarwinSita and Sarita and Mrs. Larz Anderson.

Cecilia Beaux, The Dreamer (1894)

Cecilia Beaux, A Country Woman (1888)

Beaux was also a master of mood.  I love Alice Davison and The Dreamer.  Haunting is maybe the best shorthand description.  She was also a pretty good landscape painter when she put her mind to it.  Landscape With Farm Building and Half Tide Annisquam River are really solid, reminiscent of  Camille Pissarro.

Cecilia Beaux, Mother and Daughter (1898)

Cecilia Beaux has been eclipsed, somewhat, by Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent.  That’s a shame.  In my opinion she’s hard to beat.  I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!

Cecilia Beaux, Twilight Confidences (1888)

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One Response to “Cecilia Beaux”

  1. seiko ブライツ October 25, 2013 at 1:48 am #

    セイコー ダイバー キネティック

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