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Cecilia Beaux - American Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Cecilia Beaux (1855 - 1942)

Born in Philadelphia, Cecila Beaux spent most of her career working in her hometown and in New York City. She studied at the Academie Julien in Paris, where she developed her talent as a portraitist. Beaux painted the likeness of many notable clients, including Henry James and Theodore Roosevelt. Her autobiography, Background with Figures, was published in 1930. Her sympathetic renderings of American ruling class made her one of the most successful portrait painters of her era. Though Beaux was an individualist, comparisons to Sargent would prove inevitable, and often favorable. Her strong technique, her perceptive reading of her subjects, and her ability to flatter without falsifying, were traits similar to his.

During her long productive life as an artist, she maintained her personal aesthetic and high standards against all distractions and countervailing forces. She constantly struggled for perfection, “A perfect technique in anything,” she stated in an interview, “means that there has been no break in continuity between the conception and the act of performance.” She summed up her driving work ethic, “I can say this: When I attempt anything, I have a passionate determination to overcome every obstacle…And I do my own work with a refusal to accept defeat that might almost be called painful

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