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Eva Gonzales

Eva Gonzalès

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Eva Gonzalès (April 19, 1849—May 6, 1883) was a French Impressionist painter.

Eva Gonzalès was born in Paris into the family of the writer Emmanuel Gonzalès. In 1865, she began her professional training and took lessons in drawing from the society portraitist Charles Chaplin. Through her father’s connections as a founding president of the Société des gens de lettres, she met a variety of members of the Parisian cultural elite, and from a young age was exposed to the new ideas surrounding art and literature at the time.

Gonzalès became a pupil of the artist Édouard Manet in February 1869. Manet is said to have begun a portrait of her at once, which was completed in March 1870 and exhibited as Mlle E.G. at the Salon in that year. Unfortunately her debut submissions to the Salon, also in 1870, were overshadowed by the presence of Manet's portrait. His painting depicts her working at an easel, yet her stiff posture and expensive dress are clearly unfit for creating artwork. This depiction of her likely caused some critics to perceive her simply as a young, beautiful, decorative model who was working with an older established male painter. Gonzalès was Manet's only formal student and also modeled for several members of the Impressionist school. Manet's Mlle E.G. was discussed more than Gonzalès' oeuvre at her own 1885 retrospective and at the Galerie Daber's exhibition for her work in 1950.

Gonzalès' work was celebrated by Salon reviewers for the inherent intuition with which she approached art, as well as her intrinsic technical skill. At one point she listed herself as a student of Charles Chaplin with her submissions to the Salon, perhaps as a method to be taken more seriously. Much of her work became characterized through Salon reviews with discussion of her "feminine technique" and her "seductive harmony." However, her large-scale painting, Box at the Théâtre des Italiens (1874), was characterized by the Salon jury as having "masculine vigour," which led them to reject it with questions as to her painting's authenticity. Nevertheless, her work was reviewed positively by a variety of critics. Louis Leroy, Jules Castagnary, and Émile Zola praised the work she successfully showed at the Salons. Furthermore, the art critic Maria Deraismes championed Gonzalés for producing paintings which challenged the way female painters were viewed and separated from the art scene in Paris.

Like Édouard Manet, Gonzalès never exhibited in the Impressionist exhibitions in Paris, but she is considered part of the group because of her painting style. While studying under Manet, Gonzalès' self-portraits suggest that she was exploring her individuality and identity as an artist by presenting subtle correctives to Manet's version of her. Until 1872, she was strongly influenced by Manet but later developed her own, more personal style. This can be seen in works such as Enfant de Troupe (1870), which is a nod to Manet's Le Fifre (1866), while many of her later paintings involved portraits of her sister, Jeanne.

In 1879, she married Henri Guérard, a graphic artist and Manet's engraver. She used her husband and her sister, Jeanne Gonzalès, as models. During the Franco-Prussian War she sought refuge in Dieppe.

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