Louise Abbéma was a talented French artist who lived from 1853 to 1927 during a period called the Belle Époque. She came from a rich family in Étampes, Essonne, near Paris, and they were well-known in the local art community.
Louise started painting when she was a teenager and learned from famous artists like Charles Joshua Chaplin, Jean-Jacques Henner, and Carolus-Duran. At the age of 23, she gained recognition for a painting she did of her lifelong friend, Sarah Bernhardt, who might have also been her romantic partner.
Abbéma didn’t stop there; she painted portraits of other important people and created beautiful panels and murals that decorated famous places like the Paris Town Hall, the Paris Opera House, and even theaters like the “Theatre Sarah Bernhardt.” She also contributed to the “Palace of the Colonial Governor” in Dakar, Senegal.
Her style of painting was a mix of academic and impressionistic, using light and quick brushstrokes. She regularly showcased her art at the Paris Salon and even received an honorable mention in 1881.
Abbéma’s artwork was not only famous in France but also internationally. Her pieces were displayed in the Women’s Building at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Sarah Bernhardt, her friend, even sculpted a bust of Abbéma for the exhibition.
Abbéma was known for her oil portraits and watercolors, and her art often reflected influences from Chinese and Japanese painters and famous artists like Édouard Manet. She had a special fondness for painting flowers.
Some of her most famous works include “The Seasons,” “April Morning,” “Place de la Concorde,” “Among the Flowers,” “Winter,” and portraits of people like actress Jeanne Samary, Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, Ferdinand de Lesseps, and Charles Garnier.
Apart from painting, Abbéma was skilled in other arts too. She excelled in printmaking, sculpting, and designing. She even contributed regularly to journals like Gazette des Beaux-Arts and L’Art. She illustrated several books, including “La Mer” by René Maizeroy.
For her exceptional contributions to the art world, Abbéma received many honors, including the Palme Academiques in 1887 and being nominated as the “Official Painter of the Third Republic.”