Cecilia Beaux

Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) was an American artist renowned for her elegant and sensitive portraits. She was the first woman to teach art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Cecilia Beaux painted many famous subjects, including First Lady Edith Roosevelt, Admiral Sir David Beatty, and Georges Clemenceau. Her style was often compared to that of John Singer Sargent. Cecilia Beaux’s journey to becoming an artist was influenced by a combination of personal circumstances and artistic influences.

Born in Philadelphia, she was left by her widowed father to be reared by relatives in New York City and later West Philadelphia. She was educated at home and for two years at a Philadelphia finishing school, at 16 she took up the study of art. Under the tutelage of her cousin, Catharine Drinker Janvier, an artist and writer of some note, and later of Adolf van der Whelen and William Sartain, she rapidly developed into a skilled painter.

Cecilia Beaux was trained in Philadelphia and went on to study in Paris where she was influenced by academic artists Tony Robert-Fleury and William-Adolphe Bouguereau as well as the work of Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. She was also inspired by Impressionism, and the loose brushstrokes characteristic of this movement gave Beaux’s paintings a lively and spontaneous effect.

Her father, who returned to her life when she was two, had a natural aptitude for drawing and the sisters were charmed by his whimsical sketches of animals. This early exposure to art may have also played a role in shaping her artistic inclinations.

Beaux’s inspiration to become an artist was a combination of her early exposure to art, her formal training in Philadelphia and Paris, and the influence of prominent artists and art movements of her time. Her journey underscores the interplay of personal experiences and broader artistic trends in shaping an artist’s career. Here are four of her beautiful paintings, we hope our students can research Celia further and enjoy her whole portfolio of work for inspiration.

The Last Days of Infancy

This tender painting launched Beaux’s career. It is an intimate portrait of the artist’s sister and nephew, whom she would paint repeatedly. The painting is rooted in Beaux’s Academy training, meticulously rendered with its darkened palette, technical precision, and realism.

A Little Girl

In this painting, a young girl sits quietly as she gazes intently into the viewer’s eyes. Sitting atop her lap are several wilting flowers, complementing her sullen gaze.

Sita and Sarita

One of her most famous works, “Sita and Sarita” showcases Beaux’s ability to capture the essence of her subjects.

Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker)

This painting is another testament to Beaux’s deft portraiture skills. The subject of the painting is Henry Sturgis Drinker, a notable figure of her time.

Scan from color transparency

Cecilia Beaux’s contribution to the world of art is immeasurable. Her ability to capture the essence of her subjects and her pioneering role as a female artist in a male-dominated field make her a figure of great significance in the history of art.

If you would like to receive a roundup of all of our blog posts once a week to keep you inspired in your inbox, why not sign up to our newsletter. You can access our sign up at the top of our page. If you are a London Art College student and you would like your artwork featured here, drop us a line at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *