Sunday, March 10, 2013

Artist in Her Studio

Charles Camoin  "Artist in Her Studio"  1905  Dallas Museum of Art

Charles Camoin (1879-1965) was a French painter, born in Marseilles. While studying painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris he met Henri Matisse. He became part of the circle of Matisse's friends who formed the original group of artists known as the Fauves (literal translation: the wild beasts) for their wild and expressionistic use of color.

Although the Fauves only exhibited together from 1904 to 1908, Camoin and Matisse remained good friends throughout their lives. For instance, during World War I when Camoin was drafted and served first as a stretcher bearer and then as a painter in the Camouflage unit, Matisse sent him "care packages" and letters to cheer and assist him.  (Matisse, a decade older than Camoin, had tried to enlist but his application was rejected.) During World War II when Matisse's estranged wife and daughter were arrested by the Gestapo for their work in the French Resistance Camoin was among the first of Matisse's friends to offer assistance. Camoin was never as famous an artist as his friend Matisse, but his work was shown widely throughout France during his lifetime and is now found in museums around the world.

Camoin has left no record explaining who the artist in this painting might be. It is pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if it could be a portrait of Alice Bailly? Bailly was a Swiss artist who right around this time was working in Paris and who fell heavily under the influence of Fauvism. She became part of the Fauvist circle and exhibited in their final group exhibition of 1908.

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