Painted circa 1875-78.
Eva Gonzalès first received critical attention at the Paris Salon of 1870, when she exhibited three pictures and was herself the subject of a fourth: Portrait d'Eva Gonzalès by Édouard Manet (National Gallery, London). The sole pupil of Manet, Gonzalès achieved considerable success within Parisian art circles during her lifetime and was awarded a large-scale posthumous retrospective at the Salons de la Vie Moderne just two years after her death. Gonzalès was championed by the likes of Émile Zola, who referred to her as the "naturalist artist of our times" (published in 'Lettres Parisiennes', La Cloche, May 12, 1872, p. 2, translated from the French), and the critic Jules Clarétie, who wrote of Gonzalès as "an artist of rare talent, who takes the brush after having handled pastel like Rosalba" (Jules Clarétie, Peintres et Sculpteurs Contemporains, Paris, 1874, p. 263, translated from the French).
The relative obscurity of Eva Gonzalès is attributable to both her untimely death and to a discordant reception history. Unwilling to exhibit with the Impressionists, Gonzalès stayed the course in the Salons with her maître and achieved significant critical acclaim despite her lack of popularity in the eyes of the public. Her death at the age of 34 left no time for a wide-sweeping survey of her life's work, which for historians and collectors today provides the breathtaking, if stilted, unveiling of an oeuvre of indeterminate size and scope. The present work, only recently unearthed and attributed to Gonzalès, takes as its subject a young girl rising from bed. So blithely weightless as to be barely tethered to its composite materials, the portrait proves exemplary of Gonzalès's well-deserved respect for her virtuosity in the genre. The continued rediscovery of Gonzalès's skillful hand seats her in the pantheon of female Impressionists like Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt while her narrative inextricably links her to the male greats of the era.
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