14 – Women Artists in France, 1770-1914
Dr Lois Oliver
Summer School – Online
Monday 28 June – Friday 2 July 2021
Women artists in France created astonishingly rich oeuvres, despite considerable professional obstacles. Excluded from the official École des Beaux-Arts until 1897, they also faced prejudice from art critics and dealers who regarded genius as a male attribute.
This course offers the opportunity to explore the achievements of an extraordinary range of individuals. They include the rival portraitists Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, whose glittering careers at the royal court were interrupted by the 1789 Revolution but who subsequently reinvented themselves; animal painter Rosa Bonheur, famed across Europe and America, who became the first woman to be awarded the Légion d’honneur; Impressionist innovators Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt; and an artist who defied all convention, the model-turned-artist Suzanne Valadon.
While the geographical focus is France, the cast of artists is international. We shall explore the achievements of Americans in Paris, attracted by tuition at the Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi, and the numerous Nordic visitors who not only studied in the capital but also visited artist colonies on the coast, establishing links with similar communities in Scandinavia.
The course combines in-depth lectures on individual artists and groups of artists with thematic sessions on topics such as artistic training; exhibition opportunities; the (often gendered) language of art criticism; artists as models; and self-representation.
Dr Lois Oliver studied English Literature at Cambridge University, and art history at The Courtauld, completing an MA in Venetian Renaissance Art and writing her doctoral thesis on The Image of the Artist, Paris 1815-1855. She worked at the Harvard University Art Museums before joining the curatorial team at the V&A and then the National Gallery where she co-curated the major exhibition Rebels and Martyrs: the Image of the Artist in the Nineteenth Century (2006) and a series of touring exhibitions. Currently Associate Professor in art history at the University of Notre Dame in London, she has also taught undergraduate courses at The Courtauld. Lois writes audio and multimedia tours for clients including the National Gallery, Royal Academy, Royal Collection, and Tate, and has appeared on TV programmes for the BBC and Channel 5.