One of the leading portrait painters in America, by the time she was 30, is the featured artist for April, in my Woman Artist Series --
|Self Portrait, 1894, oil, 25x20|
Here are 10 things to know about Cecilia Beaux, along with 10 examples of her work and a few images of Cecilia, too:
|A Little Girl (Fanny Travis Cochran), 1887, oil, 36 x 29|
2. Early in her art career, Cecilia earned money by painting china, before turning to portraiture, often using family members and friends as her subject matter. In these paintings, she explored the individual's character, as well as the complexities of family relationships.
She also attended portrait classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts -- but, decided against the painter, Thomas Eakins, as a teacher. Instead, she studied privately with William Sartain, whose approach she preferred over Eakins'. Sartain helped her become proficient in painting the figure from life.
|Harold and Mildred Colton, 1887, oil, 55x41|
3. "The Last Days of Infancy", painted in 1885, was the painting that effectively launched her artistic career. This double portrait, picturing her sister, Etta, and her nephew, Henry Drinker, goes far beyond portraiture. It makes a universal statement about a particular stage of childhood. Cecilia considered the arrangement of four hands at the center of the composition to be the painting's symbolic crux.
|Les Derniers Jours d'Enfance (The Last Days of Infancy), 1885, oil, 46x54|
Beaux's painting was inspired by Whistler, and won the Mary Smith Prize at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It was also accepted for the Paris Salon in 1887 -- and sealed her reputation as an artist of international standing.
|Lady Darwin (Maud DuPuy), 1889, pastel, 19x13|
5. Beaux returned to the United States in 1891, settling in New York. She soon became a much sought-after portraitist, whose sitters included many prominent politicians, writers, and artists -- including George Clemenceau, Teddy Roosevelt, his wife Edith, and his daughter.
|Man with the Cat, Portrait of Henry Sturgis Drinker (one of her best-known works.)|
6. Cecilia Beaux combined new ideas and techniques learned from the Impressionists in Paris, with her own style of portraiture. Beaux's expressive brushwork, rich palette, effective use of relaxed poses for her sitters, caused her work to be compared frequently with the portraits of John Singer Sargent. Her fusion of the French style with her own distinctively American taste became her signature style.
|Sita and Sarita, 1893, oil, 37x25|
7. Three of her most outstanding works are The Dreamer, 1984, Dorothea & Francesca, 1898, and Sita & Sarita, 1893.
|The Dreamer, 1893, oil, 33x25|
|Dorothea & Francesca, 1898, oil|
8. Cecilia Beaux was a strong-willed, independent woman her whole life. She never married, choosing instead to focus on her art. Instead of adopting the conventional roles of wife and mother, the artist focused on developing a career, and went on to become one of the leading portraitists of the day.
|Mother and Daughter, 1898, oil, 83x44|