Artists & Designers

Eva Gonzalès (French, 1849–1883)

Born into an affluent Parisian family in 1849, Eva Gonzalès was immersed in artistic circles from an early age, meeting critics and writers who gathered at her family’s home. As the École des Beaux-Arts (the most prestigious fine arts school in Paris) did not accept female students until 1897, the precociously talented Gonzalès enrolled in Charles Chaplin’s private studio for women in 1866, a privilege that only the more affluent could afford. She met the avant-garde painter Edouard Manet three years later and soon became his only formal pupil. Gonzalès developed a style similar to Manet’s and first exhibited her work at the Salon of 1870. Criticized for her lack of individuality, she later developed her own, more Impressionistic style characterized by its bright palette, broken brushwork, and depiction of everyday subjects. Gonzalès’s upper-class status and avant-garde approach put her in the same social circles of artists such as Paul Cézanne and Berthe Morisot.

Despite their association and shared artistic interests with the Impressionists, Gonzalès, like her teacher, never exhibited with the scandalous group of independent artists. Like Morisot and Mary Cassatt, she was restricted by her sex and elevated social class from depicting most sites of urban modernity that defined the works of her male cohort. She focused her painting instead on depictions of bourgeois femininity and family life, cutting-edge subjects in the second half of the 19th century. In 1879, Gonzalès married Henri Guérard, a celebrated printmaker who supported her professional aspirations. Gonzalès’s life was tragically cut short in 1883 when she died from complications of childbirth at the age of 34, leaving behind 124 paintings and pastels.

Excerpt from

Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.

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