Lines and Colors art blog

Cecilia Beaux (update)

Cecilia Beaux, 19th century American portrait painter
Cecilia Beaux — an American portrait painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — is, like her contemporaries John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, receiving something of a revival of appreciation for her place in the history American Art.

Unlike them, however, she still suffers from the fact that her contribution has rarely, if ever, been sufficiently acknowledged, largely because she was a woman.

Beaux was one of the best portrait painters of her time and, in my estimation, one of the finest American painters in history. Not only do I hold her in similar regard to painters like Chase and Thomas Eakins — who was one of her teachers — I can’t help but think of her name as a fourth party whenever I hear the common grouping of the “Masters of the Loaded Brush”: Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn.

Beaux was particularly adept in her portrayals of women, and was noted for her full-length and 3/4 length portraits in the “Grand Manner”.

For more on my high opinion of Beaux as a painter, and why it deepened on seeing the extraordinary show of her work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2008, I’ll refer you to my 2008 post on Cecilia Beaux.

In this post, I’m taking advantage of the occasion of her birthday to display more examples of her work and point out some of the newer sources of images that have appeared on the web since my previous post. Unfortunately, they are still less than I would hope for a painter of her stature, and too few of them are large enough to appreciate her breathtaking command of the brush.

The image above, bottom, is one of her self-portraits.

There are a few books on Beaux, mostly out of print but available used from online sources:
Cecilia Beaux: American Figure Painter (2007)
Cecilia Beaux: A Modern Painter in the Gilded Age (2005)
Cecilia Beaux and the Art of Portraiture (1995)

The Cecilia Beaux Forum, named after the artist, is “a committee of the Portrait Society of America dedicated to the promotion of women in the arts”.


7 responses to “Cecilia Beaux (update)”

  1. Pat Wafer Avatar
    Pat Wafer

    Thanks for bringing this artist to my attention. Beautiful paintings!! I’m not surprised I had not heard of her for the reason you mentioned but glad her work is getting more attention now.

    1. My pleasure, Pat. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Stunning. I’ll definitely try to see some of this artist’s work firsthand when possible.

    1. The Artcyclopedia link includes listings of her work in various museums.

  3. These are stunning! thanks so much for featuring her – and she’s a Philadelphian, too!

  4. Thanks for this post on Cecelia Beaux. I like her art too but she is so little known . Nice to
    find another Beaux fan!

    1. Thanks, Beth. She is gradually becoming better known, but has yet to be given her rightful place in the history of American painting.