Bridget Alsdorf

Bridget Alsdorf teaches at Princeton. Gawkers: Art and Audience in Late 19th-Century France was published in 2022.

At the Barnes: On Marie Laurencin

Bridget Alsdorf, 25 January 2024

During​ the First World War, the French artist Marie Laurencin cut off her long plaited hair and posted it to her former lover, Guillaume Apollinaire, who was serving at the front. It was an artistic as well as a personal sacrifice: interlacing serpentine lines are a recurring motif in Laurencin’s work, and femininity its primary theme. In Woman with a Fan (1912), a probable...

Florine Stettheimer​ was a rich New Yorker who found artistic inspiration in Europe, like a Henry James heroine, looking at Old Masters and Rococo interiors. One of her early paintings riffs on Botticelli’s Primavera: Stettheimer thought his Flora was ‘too fat to move’. Her Spring (1907) shows a slim, nonchalant woman in a powdered wig, flutter sleeves and high heels,...

At the Barnes: Suzanne Valadon

Bridget Alsdorf, 10 March 2022

Suzanne Valadon​ appears in several paintings by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. In The Hangover (1887-89) and Young Woman at a Table (1887), she is shown wearing a crinkled blouse and slumped over a small table, her mouth curled down in weariness or disdain. She was 21 or 22, and trying to make the leap from broke model to respectable artist. Born Marie-Clémentine Valadon in 1865, in a...

No flourish was too much: Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf, 13 August 2020

In Martin Scorsese​’s film adaptation of The Age of Innocence, facsimiles of James Tissot’s paintings hang on the walls of the Beauforts’ Gilded Age mansion, the setting for the annual Opera Ball, where New York plutocrats dance with women in Tissot-inspired dresses. An oversized replica of Too Early (1873) shows the sniggering that meets a group of early arrivals at a...

At the Royal Academy: Félix Vallotton

Bridget Alsdorf, 26 September 2019

In​ 1897 or 1898, Edouard Vuillard gave Félix Vallotton one of his most important paintings. Vuillard’s Large Interior with Six Figures appears in two of Vallotton’s paintings, hanging on the wall and reflected in a mirror. It is quintessential early Vuillard: an intimate world ruled by women, jigsawed into place by wallpaper, curtains and rugs, any anxiety or conflict...

High Anxiety: Fantin-Latour

Julian Barnes, 11 April 2013

Thirty-four men, 20 of them standing, 14 sitting, spread across four paintings and 21 years. Almost all are sombrely dressed, in the black frock coat worn by bourgeois and artist alike in the...

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