National Gallery acquires its first painting by Eva Gonzals

On the occasion of the artists 177th birthday, the National Gallery has acquiredLa Psych (The Full-length Mirror), about 1869-70, byEva Gonzals(1849-1883) thanks to three generous legacy gifts from Mrs Martha Doris Bailey, Miss Gillian Cleaver, and Ms Sheila Mary Holmes, and the National Gallery Trust. This is the first acquisition by the Gallery of a work by Gonzals and the second acquisition of itsBicentenary year. La Psych has not been seen in public for over seventy years and joins only one other painting by her in a UK public collection, The Donkey Ride, about 1880‒2, at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Gonzals is the 20th female artist represented in the National Gallery Collection, marking a significant addition. The story of Gonzalss reputation, during and after her life, reflects some of the reasons why women artists are not well represented in the National Gallery. These include being offered fewer opportunities in life and the lack of interest shown, consciously or not, in works by women artists by collectors of the era and onwards, from whose acquisitions the National Gallerys own collection was assembled.

During her lifetime Gonzals was an established artist who exhibited multiple times to acclaim at the official Paris Salon. She was the only official pupil ofEdouard Manet(1832‒1883), with whom she studied from 1869. Gonzals likely painted La Psych around the same time that Manet was painting his portrait of her,Eva Gonzals(1870, the National Gallery). That work, in the Gallery collection, was the focal point of the recent exhibition,Discover Manet & Eva Gonzals. Manet presented her in the unlikely painting outfit of a white gown, touching up an already framed floral still life, as much an allegory of painting as a practising artist. The acquisition of La Psych will continue the work started in that exhibition, providing a counterbalance to Manets presentation of Gonzals as somewhere between a serious painter and society beauty, by showing her skills as a talented and lauded painter in her own right.

Interest in Eva Gonzals has been growing in recent years. In 1990 a catalogue raisonn was published and her works have been included in exhibitions on women Impressionists in Frankfurt and San Francisco in 2008, in addition to the National Gallerys own Discover Manet & Eva Gonzals.

La Psych depicts a simple room containing a sofa, a picture on the wall and a full-length mirror, called une psych in French. A young woman looks at herself in the mirror, grasping a small red flower – the sole spot of bright colour in this subdued painting. Her dress is starkly rendered and her face is delicately modelled in shades of grey brown matching the print on the wall. This subtle monochrome is reminiscent of Manets early work but appears to be unique in Gonzalss own. The model is Gonzalss younger sister Jeanne, who regularly posed for Gonzals. The restricted domestic scene and reliance on family members as subjects demonstrate the difficulties facing female painters at the time in comparison with their male colleagues.

Christopher Riopelle, The Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery, says: Remarkably, this important rediscovery by an artist who captures increasing international attention has been in a private British collection, unseen in public for more than seventy years. We are excited that it has come to the National Gallery. The world of Impressionist studies, and of women artists studies is, if anything, even more excited.

Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: Joining Manets portrait of Eva Gonzals, this work by the artist herself helps to enrich the story the Gallery tells about 19th-century French painting. Eva died young and her works are rare. We are grateful to the legacy-givers who have enabled us to buy it.



Eva Gonzals

La Psych (The Full-length Mirror)

about 1869-70;

Image The National Gallery, London

About Eva Gonzals

Eva Gonzals (18471883) was the daughter of Emmanuel Gonzals (18151887), writer and dramatist, and Marie Cline Raguet (18231880), musician and singer. Her parents held soires attended by prominent writers and artists. While initially taught at home, from early 1866 she studied in the women-only studio run by Charles Chaplin (18251891), an artist known for his portrayals of women painted in an 18th-century style. Unusually, she would have been able to study from the life model at a special class held early in the morning. In February 1869 Alfred Stevens(18231906) introduced her to Edouard Manet, who accepted her as his only formal pupil. In the summer of that year, he embarked on his monumental portrait of her seated at her easel, Eva Gonzals, which he exhibited at the Salon of 1870. Gonzals made her debut at this Salon with three works, including The Bugler (186970, Muse de Gajac, Villeneuve-sur-Lot). Like Manet, Gonzals continued to exhibit at the Salon, including her masterpiece, A Theatre Box at the Italiens (about 1874, Muse dOrsay) which, rejected in 1874, was exhibited to great acclaim in 1879. Lessons with Manet were interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune (18701) but throughout the 1870s Manet made regular Sunday visits to Gonzalss studio in her parents house, during which their relationship developed from teacher and pupil into a dialogue on a more equal footing. Both Manet and Gonzals died within a few weeks of each other, Gonzals from an embolism following the birth of her son in spring 1883.

By the time of her premature death Gonzals had established herself as an artist who excelled in her portrayals of quiet bourgeois life, often featuring her younger sister Jeanne, also an artist. Much of her work treated subjects similar to those of the Impressionists but focussed in particular on the cloistered life led by middle-class women at this period, from visits to the milliner to walking in the park. With their own limited opportunities, the life and work of women artists at this period mirrored the lives of those they portrayed. Gonzals handled such subjects with graceful and flowing brushwork and a great sensitivity of colour. She excelled in particular in the use of pastel, a technique she learned during her time with Chaplin, and her use of which almost certainly influenced that of Manet.

The National Galleryis one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nations collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Bellini, Cezanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velzquez. The Gallerys key objectives are to care for and enhance the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free.

On 10 May 2024 the National Gallery will be 200 years old, and we will start ourBicentenary celebration, a year-long festival of art, creativity and imagination, marking two centuries of bringing people and paintings together.

More information


Legacies at the National Gallery

Over a quarter of the Gallerys paintings have been acquired as a result of gifts in Wills, benefitting generations now and in the future.

A gift in your Will, no matter how small or large, costs you nothing in your lifetime and will make a real difference to the National Gallery. Find out more about what your legacy could achieve, for a confidential conversation, please contact our Legacy Manager on 020 7747 5982

Painting Information


Eva Gonzals

La Psych (The Full-length Mirror), about 1869-70

Oil on canvas

40 27 cm

The National Gallery, London

Bought thanks to generous legacies from Mrs Martha Doris Bailey and Mr Richard Hillman Bailey, Miss Gillian Cleaver, and Ms Sheila Mary Holmes, with the support of the National Gallery Trust, 2024

The special, tax-advantageous price for the National Gallery by private treaty sale is 1.492 million.

This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *