Gonzalès, Eva (1849-1883) by Scholes, Robert

Eva Gonzalès (1849 -1883) From the Web page of the Spaightwood Galleries : http://spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Gonzales.html Eva Gonzalès, daughter of a Spanish (naturalized French) writer and a Belgian musician, grew up in a house that was a meeting place critics and writers including Theodore de Banville and Phillippe Jourde, director of the newspaper Siècle. After lessons with Charles Chaplin, a society portraitist who ran a studio for women and also taught , she became only formal pupil in 1869, receiving advice and instruction from him. She also modelled for him, and his Portrait of Eva Gonzalès, shown at the Salon in 1870 and presently in the National Gallery in London, presents her in front of an easel, working on a painting. Rejecting invitations to show with the Impressionists, she preferred instead to show at the Salons, exhibiting there in 1870 and 1879, where many critics preferred her more genteel pieces, but her work was also defended by many more “realist” critics (i.e., those supportive of the Impressionists) including Zacharie Astruc (the subject of an etched portrait by ), Philippe Burty, and Emile Zola. Gonzalès mature work, both oil paintings and finished drawings, concentrated on subjects from life, including portraits and still-lifes. Her work was exhibited at the offices of the art review L’Art in 1882 and in 1883 at the Galerie Georges Petit. In 1885, after her death in childbirth in 1883, a retrospective of 88 works was held at the Salons de La Vie Moderne. The Grove Dictionary of Art, from which this note was largely drawn, notes that “Although her work was acclaimed by several critics, the exhibition did not draw crowds, and few works were sold at the auction held soon afterwards at the Hôtel Drouet in Paris. Mary Cassatt Manet’s Whistler Anthony Ludovici noticed her work in of April 23rd, 1914 : The New Age (NA 14:25:792) My next call was paid to Bernheim-Jeune on the Boulevard de la Madeleine and the Rue Richepance. In the window I saw a group of work, but on entering from the boulevard I had a strange surprise. The rooms seemed to ,be hung entirely with Manets. And what was still more curious–Manets that had never been seen or heard of. It was as if I had taken a drug at the door and had been bewitched. I admit that I very quickly began to doubt that Manet was the author of the whole exhibition, but I defy anyone to look at the picture “La Noge” (No. 1) and not exclaim that here is a Manet he has never before seen, and the same applies to the picture “Indolence” (No. 2). I turned in despair to an intelligent-looking lad sitting behind a table loaded with catalogues and asked for information He gave me a long and detailed account of the painter of these wonderful pictures, and then suddenly interrupting himself, he said with an air of connoisseurship, “mais est-ce-que Monsieur ne represents pas un journal?” Delighted, I exclaimed that I did, and I wrote down the title THE NEW AGE. He glanced at the name, gave no sign of understanding, but in a manner denoting perfect confidence handed me a delightful little illustrated catalogue, for which, had he not taken my word, I shouId have had to pay. Then I knew that Ihe painter of these Manet pictures was that pathetic worshipper and pupil of the master’s, Eva Gonzales. In 1879 this gifted young lady became the wife of M. Henri Guerard and for four years the two lovers lived happily together. Late in April, 1883, to M. Guerard’s great joy, his young wife presented him with a child, but almost immediately afterwards, to the consternation of all concerned, Manet died, and the rumour of his death was unfortunately and unwisely allowed to penetrate into Madame Guerard’s sick-room. The news was a terrible shock to her. ‘The whole morning of the day on which Manet was buried, his devoted disciple sat up in her bed making crowns and bouquets of flowers for his grave, and during the night of May 5, after giving vent to a loud groan and crying for water, she died in her desperate husband’s arms. She had been able to survive her great master’s death only a few days. A portrait of her by Manet hangs on the walls of the Dublin Art Gallery. Henri Matisse’s To turn from this story to the pictures on the walls was to proceed from the statement of a fact to its practical demonstration. We all know the extraordinary receptive and imitative capacity of women-particularly where they love and where they admire ; but this exhibition of Eva Gonzales’ paintings far exceeds anything I have ever seen of this nature. It was in every way ;I wonderful experience. And where Manet’s excellent example and method were so well understood that it was possible for the artist to divulge a little of her own personal taste and superior love of colour, as in the pastels, for instance, a degree of artistic beauty is attained which is enchanting. I would refer more particularly to “A la fenetre ” (So. 25), “Dans le Jardin” (No. 27), “Le Bouquet de Violettes” (No. so), “Poires” (No. 31), and “Tete” (No. 32). Very soon Bernheim-Jeune’s interesting and erudite manager, M. Feneon appeared on the scene, and he struck a true note when he said in confidence to me : “We have had our Manet-how can we need this repetition of him, however excellent?” This was obvious enough. Still I cannot help feeling that I should be proud to possess one of these pictures, particularly one of the pastels.

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