Monday, April 16, 2018

Juana Romani, model turned painter

Juana Romani (1867 - 1923/24) was born with the name Carolina Carlesimo in Italy. Her mother brought her to Paris, where she began working as an artist model as a child.



She decided to pursue an art career herself, studying with Ferdinand Roybet and Jean-Jacques Henner.

Salomé by Juana Romani
She became known for her portraits of female subjects.


The influence of Henner and Roybet can be seen in the soft frontal lighting, which melts into profound shadows at the edges of the form. She painted directly on the canvas without much preliminary sketching.


Unfortunately her last years were not happy. She suffered from mental illness and lived in a psychiatric hospital, where she died forgotten.
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Book: Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900
Juana Romani on Wikipedia 

11 comments:

Susan Krzywicki said...

Do you think she took her last name after the gypsy term, "Romani" or "Romany"?

These are wonderful. The first one, in particular, caught my attention. That brocade - so rich.

Tom Hart said...

Thanks James, for your efforts in highlighting these women artists. I was wondering this morning if I'm imagining or if I am actually sensing a certain (perhaps ineffable) quality about these paintings. Do they perhaps tend to be (for want of a better term) more sensitive, in general, than paintings by men artists of the same era? I suppose I'd have to take some sort of blind test to see if that's the case. Anyway, I find that interesting to ponder.

I've asked my library to order Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900. I hope they will.

Janet Harlow said...

Beautiful, sensitive, work. I wonder about the mental illness. Often women who were unusual, unconventional and even just feisty or uncooperative, even depressives were often institutionalized to "deal" with them by their families or mates. Mary Todd Lincoln comes to mind. Later they were just medicated.

James Gurney said...

Tom, I'd be tempted to think so, but then I ran across Lady Butler (Elizabeth Thompson), who was a military painter. If all I saw was her paintings, I would have thought they were by a guy for sure. So who knows? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Thompson

Susan, I'm not sure, but from everything else I've learned about her, she liked to present herself as exotic and mysterious. Sarah Bernhardt did too.

Janet, yes, sad but true. By the 1920s so many great academic painters were all but forgotten.

Tom Hart said...

I see what you mean, James, about Lady Butler. I think that the thesis I proposed above would be hard to prove, and in any case social norms about what a woman "should" paint in those days might have skewed their paintings more toward subjects that would by their nature seem more "sensitive". My theory alone might well be a manifestation of my own gender bias in that regard.

Steph from fangswandsandfairydust.com said...

Just looking at the pictures - wow. That is incredible!

Casey Cheuvront said...

Oh, wasn't she marvelous!

Steve said...

James, thanks for introducing us to yet another overlooked artist. Beautiful work. And Tom, thanks for asking your library to get the book. I suspect your library is my library.

Tom Hart said...

I'm sure you'r right Steve. One of the best library systems I've ever seen. (We're overdue for that coffee; I'll email you after I return to town in a couple of weeks.)

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Andrew Jaremko said...

Thank you James for the paintings and the story. I see the sensitivity also; and a woman declaring, without affectation, her understanding of womanly (not just female) beauty, eroticism, and desire. I love the clear, direct gazes of all four beauties - they’ve nailed me right between the eyes.

I am plainly the object of their desire; skating the edge between eroticism and pornography. I think I can rightfully say that, because in 1974 a film three friends and I made won first prize in the San Francisco International Museum of Erotic Art’s Celebration of Human Sexuality Film Festival. In 1975 we squeaked into the #10 spot and were one of Movie Maker Magazine’s Ten Best Amateur Films of 1975. Toss a Gold Medal Special Jury Award from the Virgin Islands International Film Festival into the pot as well. It’s also been called ‘a smutty little film’.

The film is called ...Voodoo”, and is on YouTube at ...Voodoo”. Judge for yourselves. I think it has aged well.