Women were not admitted to the École des Beaux Arts until 1897, but by that time there were already other opportunities for women to train and these independent schools continued to flourish. One of the most important studios was the Académie Julian and it is still training artists today. Rodolphe Julian (1839-1907) was an accomplished painter, but it was as the owner and manager of a number of ateliers for both men and women that he excelled. He came from a poor background, and though he became successful it seems he was always sympathetic towards the plight of the starving artist. That said, the women always paid a great deal poor than the men for their tuition. It was expected they would have a male relative to support them financially. At first Julian allowed women into the male classes, but it was 'awkward' and 'disagreeable' and soon he was operating women only classes. Men and women working from the same nude model seemed to be the cause of the problem. One of his earliest and most influential pupils, Marie Bashkirtseff, was happy to work in the women only classes because the teaching was the same and apparently the men smoked too much. Julian's wife and former pupil, Amélie Beaury-Saurel, was a successful portrait painter in her own right and helped him run his various schools. She obviously helped enhance his reputation. Lady's Realm in 1900 recommended her to English readers as 'an excellent teacher and, in addition [she] possesses a most charming personality.'
|Marie Bashkirtseff - In the Studio 1881|
Of course there were dozens of other female artists who were in Paris but did not study with Julian, but you had better not get me started on greats like Suzanne Valadon, or we'll never get out to enjoy the sunshine at all...
Overcoming All Obstacles: The Women of the Académie Julian is a wonderful study of the artists and their work, and you can find a partial list of the artists, male and female, who trained with Julian here.