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Marie Bracquemond

French Painter

Marie Bracquemond Photo
Movement: Impressionism

Born: December 1, 1840 - Argenton-en-Landunvez, France

Died: January 17, 1916 - Sèvres, France

Summary of Marie Bracquemond

Despite being referred to as one of "les trois grandes dames" (the three great ladies) of the Impressionist movement by the famous French art historian, Henri Focillon in 1928, the work of Marie Bracquemond was somewhat obscure until at least the 1980s. A good deal of what we know about her comes from a brief biography that Pierre, her only child, wrote about his artist parents, Felix and Marie. In contrast, it was her husband, the evidently domineering Felix who resented her career and loathed the Impressionist style, who played a significant role in downplaying the importance of Marie Bracquemond in the larger context of the Impressionist movement.

Nevertheless, she persisted in developing her apparently prodigious talent, incorporating en plein air painting techniques of her youth into her professional regimen while working with some of the most notable artists of the period such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas and, later on, Paul Gauguin. Gradually, Bracquemond established her own distinctive, colorful approach to the style and she was rewarded with invitations to exhibit her work, including at the Impressionist exhibitions in 1879, 1880, and 1886.

Key Ideas

Bracquemond began her career as an academic painter whose polished, Realist style had far more in common with the anachronistic work of Salon-approved artists like Cabanel, Regnault, and Gérôme than emerging avant garde painters like Monet and Degas. However, after having met the latter two, her style began to change dramatically as she absorbed the precepts of Impressionism and by the 1880s her painting could only be described as fully Impressionist.
Bracquemond is known for having been something of a recluse, particularly as she aged. While earlier in her career, she enjoyed going out and painting en plein air like most of her Impressionist colleagues, by mid-career, many of her paintings were made in the garden of her home in the southwestern Parisian suburb of Sèvres.
Her work after 1886 began to change with her palette becoming increasingly more vibrant. This transformation was due in large part to Bracquemond having met Gauguin in 1886. The two were introduced by Felix, who had befriended the then-impoverished, budding new artist. At Gauguin's encouragement, Bracquemond enhanced her relatively subdued Impressionist palette so that it became much brighter, all of which was ironic given that her husband took exception most of all to her use of color, preferring printmaking in black in white to his wife's chosen medium of oil painting.

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