Elizabeth Nourse (1859 - 1938)
Portrait of a Dutch Girl, 1892
Oil on panel
8 x 4 Ĺ inches
Initialed and dated at upper right: E. N. 92
Elizabeth Nourse was born in Mount Healthy, Ohio in 1859, into a large family that made a fortune in banking only to shortly lose it. She and her twin sister Adelaide studied at the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati, where they took classes in painting, wood carving, china painting and engraving. Nourse was taking classes in a period now thought of as the Golden Age of Cincinnati arts. While she did not directly take classes with the highly influential Frank Duveneck, her earliest paintings have the bravura brushwork and inherent realism associated with the noted artist and teacher.
Painting at a time when it was still unusual for an American woman to actively pursue a professional career as an artist, Nourse determined to do just that. She went to New York and studied briefly with William Sartain (1843-1924). In the summer of 1887, Nourse went to Paris and enrolled in the Academie Julianís school for women; she exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon the following year. Nourse was given the distinction on having her entry hung at eye level in a room of paintings hung floor to ceiling.
Nourse tended towards a more realist style, though she was clearly also influenced by Impressionism, and experimented with effects of light and pattern. Nourseís most strongly Impressionist works were done around 1911, at what may be considered the apex of her career. At this point, Nourse was fully established in Paris, had been exhibiting regularly in the Paris exhibition venues and was actively selling her work, including an important purchase by the Musee du Luxembourg in 1910.