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Louise Abbema

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Louise Abbema

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Biography of Louise Abbema ( 1853-1927 )

Louise Abbema was one of the most followed feminine artist of her time, with an unusual determination. She achieved success at the age of eighteen, with her portraits of Sarah Bernhardt. She visited very early the studios of Emile-Auguste Carolus Duran, Jean-Jacques Henner and Charles Chaplin.

She regularly exhibited at the Salon of French Artists from 1876, and each of her participations were a success. Very soon, she get some orders from important persons and was familiar with institutional rewards. She won a medal during the 1900’s Universal Exhibition in Paris for her Portrait of Mrs B. Six years later she was decorated with the Legion of Honour and became then the third feminine artist to get this precious red ribbon, after Rosa Bonheur and Virginie Demont-Breton.

On the advice of Paul Mantz, the art critic from Bordeaux, Louise Abbema exhibited around fifteen paintings during the Salon de la société des Amis des Arts in Bordeaux between 1880 and 1900.
She was a painter of scenes of genre, in the pure academic tradition, but was also able to diversify her production in painting floral compositions as well as portraits or decorative panels.
Several of her compositions are still conserved on the walls of the Paris city hall or in city halls of the VIIth, Xth and XXth arrondissements in Paris.

J-K Huysmans declared about her that « Miss Abbema is mad about strokes of colors and places them over the canvas with an amazing strength for a woman who spent time, like almost all other painters of this time, in the studio of Mr Chaplin ».

Everybody was knowing Louise Abbema. She was friend with actors, actresses, aristocrats, politicians, royalists as well as journalists. This artist was a key figure of the society. She took care of her renown and get her own annual exhibition at the Georges Petit Gallery, located on 12 Godot de Mauroy Street.

She particularly was a frequent visitor to personalities close to the artists of modernity, like Count Lepic, friend of the Abbema’s family, who teached her the art of decoration and who was familiar with Edgar Degas. They realised together several paintings planed to ornament the walls of the new family home. Louise Abbema certainly rubbed shoulders with Claude Monet too, because they were in vacation in the same little coastal village named Petites Dalles, in the Seine Maritime, between 1880 and 1885. The influence of the great Monet felt the effects on the landscapes’studies realised by Abbema at this time.

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