Saturday morning Trusteeship participants were taken behind the scenes of the stunning Norton Simon Museum. We were there to hear about signiﬁcant contributions of female artists to European portraiture, French Impressionism, Cubism, non-objective art and contemporary sculpture. The collection provided us with an opportunity to look at works by some of the most important female artists throughout the history of art.
We were introduced to the work of Louise Moillon (1610-1696) who showed notable talent by age 10; Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750), who had ten children and painted her last work at age 83; Marie-Genevieve Bouliar, (1762-1825), who exhibited at the Salon 1791-1817; Marie-Louise-ElizabethVigee-Lebrun (1755-1842), enormously successful portraitist to Marie Antoinette and her children, who left 800 paintings;
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) who exhibited at all the Impressionist exhibitions except the year she was pregnant and who was married to the brother of Edouard Manet; Liubov Popova (1889-1924) who with 35 fellow artists, rejected easel painting in 1921 in favor of utilitarian art forms like theater design, typography, sets, costumes; Edith Heath (1911-2005), a ceramist who was awarded an AIA award (ﬁrst ever to a non-architect) for the 115,000 red-glaze over onyx glaze tiles on the exterior of the NSM; Jeanne Carr (1825-1894), friend of John Muir, who ﬁrst developed the land the NSM sits on, and last and very important, Jennifer Jones (1919-2009), who got Norton Simon interested in Indian art.
We concluded this specialized tour of women artists with a walk through the Museumʼs 20th century sculpture collection sensitively set in a most tranquil and beautiful garden. We agreed that the one of the most appealing aspects of this museum is the design layout that encourages individual connection with the art. With this in mind, we each took time to engage on our own, to ponder the challenges these early women artists faced, and to pay them homage. It was a richly satisfying and peaceful way to start our day.