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Picturing a World

Class critique

I recently came across this picture by Albert Guillaume. William Adolphe Bouguereau criticizing student work in Jeanette’s class at the Académie Julian? Not quite, but mighty close! It appears in the January 14, 1905, issue of the French weekly, L’Illustration, accompanying the magazine’s review of a play, La Massière by Jules Lemaître.

La Massière is set in a women's class at the “Atelier Justinien,” an obvious substitute for the Académie Julian. As the Illustration article says, Guillaume’s scene would be recognizable to anyone familiar with teaching studios from Montmartre to Montparnasse: The big skylight for even, northern light. The gray walls hung with masks, fragments of statues, and the students’ best sketches. The boxes of drawings on the floor. The plot involves a massière or class monitor (cf. Amy Richardson), the distinguished teacher who falls in love with her, his jealous wife, and their son with whom the massière is in love.

I read only a plot summary while I was working on Where the Light Falls, and now I've moved on to researching New York in 1908. But if you want to read La Massière in French on-line, click here.

For a painting of theatrical latecomers by Guillaume, click here.

For the French Wikipedia article on Jules Lemaître, click here. For the less informative English Wikipedia article, click here.
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