Cecilia Beaux

(1855-1942)

Cecilia Beaux, born in 1855, was one of the most prominent female portrait painters of the late 19th and early 20th century and is often ranked with Mary Cassatt. She began her artistic training under two Philadelphia based artists from 1872-73 and 1881-83. Beaux then went to Paris to continue her studies at Academie Julian with Bouguereau in 1888. She rejected marriage and decided to dedicate her life to painting and acquired many patrons, particularly women and children of the social elite. Well-molded hands that shine with light against a dark background mark Beaux's early traditional style. There are evident characteristics in the face that often convey psychological insight. However, after her return from France, she adopted a more vibrant, fluent style with whites, yellows and lavenders contrasted with bright black. "Les Dernier Jours D'efance" (1883), one of her greatest works, is the profile of her sister and resembles Whistler's works of his mother. This piece won awards of both sides of the Atlantic and established her career as a respected portraitist.