OIL ON CANVAS, SIGNED
26 X 21 INCHES
Emilie Charmy was a prolific painter in France during the
early and mid – twentieth century, despite the marginalization of
education and resources for women artists at the time.
In the late 19th century enrollment was closed to women
at l’École des Beaux-Arts so Charmy first received private
lessons from artist Jacques Martin in Lyon. Martin encouraged her singing
career as well, which warranted a performance opportunity in New Orleans,
however her brother forbade it. In 1902 she moved to St. Cloud on the
outskirts of Paris with her brother where he consistently encouraged Charmy
to continue painting. They eventually moved to Paris where Charmy settled
into what would become her home and studio for the following seventy years.
In 1904 Charmy exhibited for the first time at the Salon
des Indépendants and in 1905 at the Salon d’Automne, where
the term “les fauves” was first used by critic Louis Vauxcelles
to describe the bright boldness and freedom of Fauvism. Charmy’s
work at the time encompassed mostly still lifes, though executed with
a distinctly masculine command. She quickly gained recognition and acclaim
among her peers including the reputable dealer Berthe Weil, who helped
Charmy launch her career. Critic Roland Dorgelès praised Charmy
by writing that she “… sees like a woman and paints like a
man.” Though today considered an extremely gendered and offensive
critique was at the time an outstanding compliment.
An admirer, Georges Bouche, was so struck by Charmy’s
work he insisted on meeting the artist under the assumption she was a
man due to her artistic mastery. The two became well acquainted, eventually
married and had a son, Edmond. Charmy and Bouche lived independently from
each other for quite sometime as she was extremely committed to and focused
on her career.
Charmy’s fame and exposure grew as she had several
solo exhibitions and participated in a group show at the esteemed Galerie
d’Oeuvres d’Art as well as the 1913 Armory Show. Charmy was
made an official member of the Salon d’Automne in 1910. She attracted
the attention of patron Compte Etienne de Jouvencel who arranged an exhibition
for Charmy at the Galerie Styles alongside her male contemporaries Ingres,
Delacroix, Corot, Manet, Renoir, Matisse, Cèzanne, Derain, Rouault
The oeuvre in which Charmy worked ranged from still lifes,
figures and nudes to political portraiture. Though most subject matter
is deemed ‘feminine’ her technique, stylization and aesthetic
demand is highly masculine. She was acclaimed by critic Louis Vauxcelles
in 1921 as ‘one of the most remarkable women [artists] of our time.’
She became identified with and established alongside Suzanne Valadon,
Jacqueline Marval, Marie Blanchard, Marie Vassiliev and Sonia Delaunay.
She painted well into her seventies and died in 1974 at the age of ninety-four. In 1980 her son, Edmond Bouche, wrote of her life and work for an exhibition by the Patrick Seale Gallery in London. In recent years, the Kunsthaus Bühler Gallery in Stuttgart, Germany has presented a large number of Charmy’s paintings.