Listen to part of a lecture in an art history class.
We had been talking about the art world of the late 19th century in Paris, and today I'd like to look at the women who went to Paris at that time to become artists.
Now from your reading what do you know about Paris…about the art world of Paris during the late 19th century?
People came there from all over the world to study.
It had a lot of art schools and artists who taught painting.
There were…our book mentions classes for women artists.
And it was a good place to go to study art.
If you wanted to become an artist, Paris was not a good place to go, Paris was THE place to go. And women could find skilled instructors there.
Before the late 19th century, if they…women who wanted to become artists had to take private lessons or learn from family members.
They had more limited options than men did.
But around 1870s, some artists in Paris began to offer classes for female students. These classes were for women only.
And by the end of the 19th century, it became much more common for women and men to study together in the same classes.
So…so within a few decades, things had changed significantly.
Ok. Let's back up again and talk about the time period from the 1860s to the 1880s and talk more about what happened in women's art classes.
In 1868, a private art academy opened in Paris—and for decades it was probably the most famous private art school in the world.
Its founder, Rodolphe Julian, was a canny businessman and quickly established his school as a premier destination for women artists.
What he did was, after an initial trial period of mixed classes, he changed the school policy; he completely separated the men and women students.
Any reason why he did that?
Well. Like I said, Julian was a brilliant businessman, with progressive ideas.
He saw that another small private art school where all the students were women was very popular at that time.
And that's probably why he adopted the women-only classes.
His classes were typically offered by ....by established artists and were held in the studio, the place where they painted.
This was a big deal because finally women could study art in a formal setting.
And there was another benefit to the group setting of these classes.
The classes included weekly criticism.
And the teacher would rank the art of all the students in the class from best to worst.
How would you like it if I did that in this class? [joking]
But our textbook said that the competitive…the competition was good for women.
It helped them see where they needed to improve.
[Agreeing] Isn't that interesting? One woman artist, her name was Marie Bashkirtseff.
Bashkirtseff once wrote how she felt about a classmate's work.
She thought her classmates' art was much better than her own and it gave her an incentive to do better.
Overall, the competition in the women's art classes gave women more confidence… confidence that they could also compete in the art world after their schooling.
And even though Bashkirtseff could not study in the same classes as men, she was having an impact as an artist.
Just look at the salon, what do you know about the salon?
It was a big exhibition, a big art show that they had in Pairs every year.
Their art had to be accepted by judges.
It was a big deal you can make a name for yourself.
You can have a painting or sculpture in the salon and go back to your home country saying you've been a success in the Paris.
It was sort of uh, a seal of approval.
It was a great encouragement for an artist's career.
And by the last two decades of 19 century, one fifth of the paintings in the salon were by woman, much higher than in the past.
In fact, Marie Bashkirtseff self had a painting in the salon in 1881.
Interestingly, this masterpiece, called In the Studio is a painting of the interior of Julian's art school.
Um, it’s not in your textbook—I’ll show you the painting next week…
Uh, the painting depicts an active, crowded studio with women drawing and painting a live model.
It was actually Bashkirtseff actually follow Julian's savvy suggestion and painted her fellow students in a class at the school with the artist herself at far right.
A great advertisement for the school when the painting eventually hung up at the salon, for a women's studio had never been painted before.