Fanny Fleury

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Biography of Fanny Fleury ( 1846-1923 )

A student of Jean-Jacques Henner, Fanny Louise Laurent, known as Madame Fanny, quickly won over her master with her talent as a portraitist. In order to continue providing quality teaching, he pushed her to join the "Ladies' Workshop", which, as its name suggests, was intended for women who were not allowed to attend the École des Beaux-Arts before 1897. Carolus-Duran, who was the initiator and also the teacher of this class, thus allowed women artists to follow the same teaching as that given to men.  

Within the studios of Carolus-Duran and Jean-Jacques Henner, many American artists came to receive artistic training. This is how Fanny Fleury met John Singer Sargent, with whom she became friends and who was impressed by the young painter's talent. 

From 1869, Fanny Fleury participated in the Salon des Artistes Français until her death. She was one of the most successful female exhibitors in the history of the Paris Salon, with works accepted regularly from 1869 to 1882, and in many other salons thereafter.  At the 1884 Salon, one critic declared that Fleury had "equaled her masters," Henner and Duran.

She exhibited at the Saint-Etienne and Dijon Salons and received an honorable mention at the 1889 World's Fair. She was also invited in 1893 to the Chicago World's Fair, where a special pavilion, "Woman's building", was dedicated to the work of a hundred women artists from around the world, including thirty French women.

Then the career of Fanny Fleury took another way. She put aside the portraits of society that made her success to devote herself to Breton scenes. Once again she excelled in the genre. In 1892, The American Magazine published an article: "Realism has also tempted another artist of great talent, Mrs. Fanny Fleury. It is in the desolate lands of Lower Brittany that Mrs. Fleury seeks her subjects. She painted some admirable marine scenes, but she excelled in the representation of peasantry types... Every summer she goes to the seaside, and in some secluded horns, little frequented by the tourist, she prepares her painting for the next Salon”. The American Magazine, Vol. 34. New York: Frank Leslie Publishing House, 1892; p, 430

The quality of her work and her references certainly raise questions about the current lack of information available about Fleury's life and the location of her works. Fanny Fleury had a very productive career, according to records of the time, the artist's work was regularly purchased directly from the Salon's gallery.

Whatever the reason for Fanny Fleury's unjustified neglect, today the artist's works are being rediscovered and Fanny Fleury is one of the pioneering women painters.

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