Art Lesson: Cecilia Beaux
Before I start, I would like to point out that art movements don’t always fit into neat little boxes: Rather, they fade subtly from one to the other, the new styles often retaining characteristics of the old. Generally, the formal Impressionist activity occurred around the 1870s-1880s, but some of the artists involved continued to develop their styles in later years. Gauguin and Cézanne are the first to come to mind, giving foundation to the new “style” or tendency called Post-Impressionism … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Cecilia Beaux doesn’t snugly fit into the Impressionist category as most people think of it; There are no countryside landscapes or city scenes of modern life, but I saw her work in an exhibition on American Impressionism, so that’s gotta mean something. In addition, she visited Europe numerous times for artistic training, especially Paris, which was considered the center of the art world at the time, and certainly the epicenter of Impressionism. Certainly, the visible brushstrokes and occasional departure from rigid composition denote the famous French style, but the subject matter – portraits – is rooted in traditional, formal art of the Academy.