Eva Gonzalès

1847 – 1886 / French impressionist painters
“Everyone admires this young artist’s temperament, her unusual view of the real world, her obvious virtuosity and her talent. And though they say she is an acolyte of Manet, they think that in many ways she is superior to her master.”
Camille Lemonnier on Eva Gonzalès, 1874
A unique education

Born in Paris in 1847, Eva Gonzalès threw herself enthusiastically into the art scene as a young impressionist.  Her mother was a musician and her father an author, a situation which gave Eva easy access the arts and culture scene of her time. In 1865, at the age of 16, she began her artistic training with the renowned portrait and pastel painter Charles Chaplin. However, she soon outgrew his teaching approach due to her interest in the avant garde, and in 1869 she joined Edouard Manet’s studio at the age of 22. She was to remain the only female student that Manet ever taught.

Eva Gonzalès, Le Moineau, 1869 – 1870
Successful exhibitions and good reviews

In 1870 Gonzalès’ works were given their first showing at the Paris Salon and in 1872 she was awarded an “honourable” adjudication at the World Exhibition in Lyon (France). She was to appear at the Paris Salon repeatedly over the following years, and also took part in the counter-exhibition “Salon des Refusés”. In 1882 her works were shown in the women-only group exhibition entitled Cercles de la rue Volney, which offered new possibilities for women to show their works. However, like her teacher Manet, she would never take part in an exhibition of impressionist works.

Eva Gonzalès, Girl with Cherries, um 1870
Courtesy Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, Art Institute of Chicago

Although Eva Gonzalès only enjoyed limited commercial success during her own lifetime, she earned great praise from important artists and critics of her time including the authors Emile Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as the art critic Zacharie Astruc. 

A unique, intimate painting style

Gonzalès was to develop her own unique style of art that possesses a mysterious, intimate quality. Uniform areas of colour and an idiosyncratic use of reddish hues are characteristic of her paintings. Alongside the portrayal of her family environment, Gonzalès specialized in painting still lifes and landscapes.

Eva Gonzales, En bateau, um 1875

In 1883, at the age of just 36, Eva Gonzalès died as a result an embolism shortly after the birth of her son with husband Henri Guérard. Although a posthumous solo exhibition showing 48 of her works was held in 1885, the artist died before her name had received the recognition it deserved.