Academie to atelier : the artistic education of American women in nineteenth-century Paris


Anna Estes

Date of Award


Document Type

Masterʼs Research Paper

Degree Name



Art & Art History

First Advisor

M.E. Warlick

Second Advisor

Annette Stott


Women in art --19th century, Women artists -- France, Art -- Study and teaching -- France


This paper puts forth an alternate reading of the artistic climate in late nineteenth-century Paris than that which has traditionally been suggested. I propose that the expansion of creative opportunity during this time reveals a climate of communal support, consent, and progressive reform for women artists, rather than a struggle to undermine central (masculine) control, as many scholars have claimed. Specifically, I explore the work of American expatriates living in Paris, including but not limited to Cecilia Beaux, Anna Klumpke, Alice Kellogg, and Ellen Day Hale. The birth of the private academy in Paris offered women the chance to develop their artistic ability and assert their independence. The Académie Julian in particular provided a comparatively accepting and progressive environment where American women studying abroad could study from the nude model, receive proper training, and explore their full creative potential. Through an examination of a) these women’s self-portraits, and b) depictions of them painted by their contemporaries – both male and female – I further investigate the artistic education of American women in the highly-gendered cultural milieu of late nineteenth-century France.


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