Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This work depicts an all-women painting class at a time when most art schools did not allow women to attend. It is a rare example of a painting that features women artists practicing professionally during the 19th century.
- This is one of only two known paintings that depict an all-women art class at the Académie Julian.
- Académie Julian was one of the few schools that allowed women and men to have equal access to art education and training.
The woman depicted on the left side of this painting (wearing a red apron and looking directly at the viewer) is Lucie Attinger, the artist who created this painting. She was a Swiss painter and illustrator. Attinger studied under the artists Georges Grisel and Auguste Bachelin in Switzerland before she moved to Paris to attend the Académie Julian. The scene she painted shows an all-women painting class at the Académie Julian in Paris. It was one of the few schools that allowed women and gave them the same access that men had to art education and training. Académie Julian was the leading international school for women artists at the time.
Attinger exhibited at the Paris Salon only once, with this painting, in 1889. This work is an example of the success that the students of Académie Julian could achieve. Attinger’s painting is a rare document of women artists overcoming barriers and practicing professionally. It is one of two known artworks that depict an all-women painting class at the Académie Julian. The other work, titled In the Studio, was painted by Mariya Bashkirtseva (also known as Marie Bashkirtseff) in 1881. These two works of art offer insight into the training of women artists at the end of the 19th century.
The inscription (upper left) is an element that makes Attinger’s work unique. It indicates that the artist created the painting as a gift to a professor. The parts that can be read translate as follows: A notre très chère … / Encore mille fois merci … Attinger (To our very dear … / Thank you again a thousand times … Attinger).
Historic systems of exclusion of women artists have led to them being underrepresented in museum collections. This painting is one of three works by women artists in the European collection at the NCMA.
Resources for Teachers:
- Watch a video about Académie Julian in the late 19th century and discover how the school influenced women artists internationally.
- Read more about Lucie Attinger.
Resources for Students: