Case Study 2 on Émilie Charmy

Émilie Charmy
1878 - 1974

Woman Holding Her Breast, 1920-25, oil on canvas, 36 5/8 x 28 3/4" 

Woman Holding Her Breast, 1920-25, oil on canvas, 36 5/8 x 28 3/4" 

Émilie Charmy is a little-known painter whose work spans three-quarters of the 20th century. Her subjects range from still life, landscape, and figure with one landscape currently on view in the Modern and Contemporary wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most striking works are her bold, often sensuous, nudes for which she herself was sometimes the subject. Charmy was part of an artistic culture in Paris which included Matisse and as well as women painters such as Susan Valadon and Marie Laurencin.  

I am interested in Charmy’s combination of painting style and subject. One critic described her work in this way: “Charmy...sees like a woman and paints like a man.” Carrying on with the overarching theme of women hacking into painting, I will look at the boldness in Charmy’s work, both in her process of painting and in the subjects she depicts.

Self-Portrait, 1910, oil on board, 18 1/8 x 14 15/16"

Self-Portrait, 1910, oil on board, 18 1/8 x 14 15/16"

Preliminary Bibliography

Perry, Gillian. Women artists and the Parisian avant-garde: modernism and feminine art, 1900 to late 1920s. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Charmy, Émilie, and Sylvie Carlier. Émilie Charmy: 1878-1974. Villefranche-sur-Saône: Musée municipal Paul Dini, 2008.

Charmy, Émilie. Émilie Charmy. London: Patrick Seale Gallery, 1980.

Charmy, Emilie, and Matthew Affron. Émilie Charmy. Charlottesville: The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia, 2013.