Claude (born Claudine) Raguet Hirst was a beautifully skilled still life painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Her intimate, strikingly rendered paintings are considered to be in the American “trompe l’oeil” (fools the eye) style, a genre in which she was the pioneering woman artist.
Though she started her career painting still life subjects like fruit, and particularly florals, she shifted her attention to arrangements with subjects common to the genre — pipes, candles, reading glasses and other objects often found on desks.
Her best known paintings, however, add to these subjects richly textural representations of antique books. Not just books, but specifically recognizable books, the titles or subjects of which are sometimes featured in her painting titles.
She later dropped the pipes and other objects usually associated with paintings meant to appeal to men, and concentrated on subjects both men and women might enjoy; and her choice of books frequently included titles by women authors whose attitudes would be considered feminist by the standards of the day.
Hirst worked in watercolor, an unusual medium for trompe l’oeil, but common among women artists of the time. She also mastered oil and her oil and watercolor still lifes are often similar in appearance.
There is a book on Hirst and her work: Claude Raguet Hirst: Transforming the American Still Life by Martha M. Evans. You can see a preview of it on Google Books.