Those Impressionist Gals

Sometimes it’s worth venturing beyond Oakland – this time to visit the Women Impressionists show across the Bay.  The Legion of Honor is the only U.S. venue for this exhibit, which displays 140 works loaned from museums and private collections worldwide.

Expect the calming effects of typical mothers and children, portraits, nature and other 19th century scenes.  Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzales and Marie Bracquemond were devoted to their artwork, in an era when they were supposed to sit home and eat bonbons.

While we like to think of these women as ground-breakers, they didn’t regard themselves that way.  They simply followed their creative muses and preferred the impressionist ethos.  Learn more about the artists from exhibit organizers and experts, in this recent KQED program.

All the French Impressionists were connected, whether male or female, in their rebellion from the formality of the French Salon.  Well-known men like Degas, Manet, Monet and Renoir welcomed participation by these talented women.

Degas first asked Cassatt, an American artist in Paris, to join the Impressionists.  Manet accepted only one student in his career, Eva Gonzales.  Morisot went a step further and married Manet’s brother.  Bracquemont actively participated in the group, despite protests from her husband.

Whether in art or other intellectual pursuits, a few doors were opening for late-19th century women.  (One proof statement might be Oakland’s Mills College, the first women’s college founded in the West.)  These opportunities set the stage for more widespread rights, not yet obvious to women of that era.

More Info:  The Legion of Honor is located in Lincoln Park, San Francisco (map).  Including the Women Impressionists exhibit, admission costs $15/head and parking is free.  Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 9:15am – 5:15pm.  The exhibit runs through September 21st.