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Picturing a World

Countess Marie Bashkirtseff

Artist unknown, Marie Bashkirtseff (1878)
Anyone researching women students at the Académie Julian comes up against Countess Marie Bashkirtseff from the get-go. Besides a self-portrait, she painted a picture, In the Studio of a women's class and kept a voluminous diary in which she recorded her drama-queen feelings, studio gossip, and lots of concrete particulars about what went on in the classes. Talented, vain about her looks, ambitious, and far from tactful, she attracted devoted followers but also provoked many of her classmates, some of whom rallied behind another star at the school, Louise Breslau. I suppose it was a detractor who produced this cartoon! (Jeanette's cartooning has much precedent among art students of the period.)

I did not let Jeanette enter the class for the full nude in which she studied, partly for the reasons that Rodolphe Julian gives in the novel and partly because I was afraid that, given the chance, Bashkirtseff would take over as the main character.
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