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Émilie Charmy

Artist Statement


Émilie Espèrance Barret de Charmy (1878-1974) was an artist in the early avant-garde in France. She lived a very interesting life at a time when women were not given leeway in either jobs or lifestyles. Émilie was a trail blazer resisting traditional gender roles, painting female nudes and supporting herself through the sale of her art work. She had a vibrant art career that lasted six decades.

Émilie was born in 1878 in the town of St. Etiénne to an affluent family but was orphaned at age of 5. She and her older brother were sent to Lyon to live with wealthy relatives. She was educated at a private Catholic school and took private art lessons from Jacques Martin. Émilie painted in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles during this time of her life. At the age of 24 she moved to Paris and set up an art studio. Émilie became friends with Bertha Weil who regularly invited her to show in her gallery. She studied with Henri Matisse during this time and there is conjecture that this relationship may have caused her shift to the use of heavy brush strokes in her work and Fauvism.

In 1913 Émilie was one of only 50 women invited to participate in the The Armory Show. Her pieces were exhibited in the famous Gallery H alongside Matisse, Henri Manguin, Albert Marquet, Charles Camoin and Georges Rouault. She continued her career and actively painted through WWI and WWII. Her work was shown at many prestigious galleries in Paris. Charmy was still painting when she passed away in Paris at the age of ninety-seven.