Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lluïsa who "Paints Like a Man"

Lluïsa Vidal i Puig Self Portrait 1899

Lluïsa Vidal i Puig (1876-1918) was a Catalan painter from Barcelona. One of twelve children she first studied with her father, Francesc Vidal i Jevellí, who, similar to William Morris in England, was a designer and craftsman deeply involved in the art world. When Lluïsa was sixteen she visited The Prado in Madrid, and was inspired by the works of such great Spanish artists as Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya.
She began exhibiting her work professionally in 1898 at age 22, and in 1901 she left to study further in Paris. While in that city she became a supporter of the Feminist movement, which she learned about in part through through the ground-breaking French Feminist newspaper called La Fronde. (It's actually kind of amazing, click on the link to learn more!) She left Paris to study for a short time in England.
Lluïsa returned to Barcelona in 1902 at the request of her family,cutting short her study abroad because three of her sisters had fallen ill and her help was needed. To assist the family financially she began giving private art lessons and also worked as an illustrator for Feminal Magazine, a Spanish Feminist publication. She painted and exhibited tirelessly despite the many calls on her time. "Critics, all of whom were male, were awed as well as stumped, using words such as 'Virile" to describe her talent. In surprised admiration, they would write: "She paints so well... she paints like a man!" ("Painted Like a Man, Disappeared like a Woman: Luisa Vidal, The Daughter of Modernism" by Marcy Rudo, OTI, 1998.) She had a major exhibit at lSala Parés, an important art gallery in Barcelona in 1914, receiving rave reviews and accolades. Unfortunately she died only a few years later, during a Spanish Flu epidemic epidemic in 1918. Despite her burgeoning fame and the critical acclaim she received during her lifetime, after her death her name sank into obscurity. Now rediscovered, she is considered part of Modernisme, the Catalan modernist art movement.
Lluïsa Vidal i Puig Self Portrait Date unknown
note: Lluïsa Vidal i Puig's name follows Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Vidal and the second or maternal family name is Puig. She is often most easily searched by using her patronymic, Vidal, rather than Puig.
P.S. Many thanks to my old friend, writer Elizabeth Castro for her kind assistance in finding out more about this wonderful Catalan artist! 

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