Rivière Anne, « Blanche Moria », dans Rivière Anne, Dictionnaire des sculptrices – 1550-2000, Paris, Mare & Martin, 2018.→
Chevillot Catherine (ed.), Peintures et Sculptures du XIXe siècle. La collection du musée de Grenoble, Paris, Réunion des Musées nationaux/Musée de Grenoble, 1995.→
Lamers de Vits Maria, LesFemmes sculpteurs, graveurs et leurs œuvres, Paris, Référendum littéraire, 1905.
Blanche Moria was born to a family of Parisian shopkeepers, and seems to have received a fairly liberal education – a rare occurrence for young girls in the second half of the 19th century. She first studied with sculptor Louis Schroeder (1828-1898) before taking lessons from Henri Chapu (1833-1891) and Antonin Mercié (1845-1916) at the Académie Julian and learning medal etching from Jules Chaplain (1839-1909). From 1883 to 1926 she was a regular contributor at the Salons des Artistes français and shows organised by the Union des Femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs (Union of women painters and sculptors), which paid tribute to her with a posthumous retrospective exhibition in 1927.
As a drawing teacher at the Lycée Molière in the 16th arrondissement of Paris for over thirty years, she taught many students, including sculptor and decorator Alice Trudon (1891-1934) and Serafim Sudbinin (1870-1944), ceramicist and assistant to Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). She also collaborated with ceramicist Paul Jeanneney (1861-1920) from the Puisaye manufacture to create stoneware versions of some of her pieces, such as Enfant au bavoir [Child with bib, 1906].
As a creator of busts, medallions and allegorical sculptures, B. Moria was often commissioned work for work for the state, including a marble bust of Father Armand David (1904) for the National Museum of Natural History, the monument L’âme du sol salue les morts [The soul of the land salutes the dead, 1920] for the World War I memorial in Passy-Grigny (Marne), and the high relief of the Fountain of the Danaids (1926) for Jean Jaurès School in Le-Pré-Saint-Gervais (Seine-Saint-Denis).
B. Moria was a committed feminist activist who fought for women’s access to equal education, work and political rights. As a member of the Ligue Française pour le Droit des Femmes (French league for women’s rights), she contributed an article on women artists for the collection Cinquante ans de féminisme, which the organisation published in 1921. Many of her works addressed the issues of women’s education and emancipation explicitly, particularly La Femme [Woman, 1902], which Maria Lamers de Vits chose as the illustration for the cover of her book Les Femmes sculpteurs, graveurs & leurs œuvres (1905), and the group L’Éducation maternelle [Maternal education, 1908], later renamed La Leçon de botanique [The Botany Lesson, 1908].
However, if we look at her from a necessarily historical standpoint, we notice that while the cover illustration for M. Lamers de Vit’s book bears a socially motivated caption – “Woman dons overalls to acquire an individuality” – B. Moria’s original caption for her piece in the Salon’s brochure is in fact far less radical: “Dismissing the futile attributes of her sex, the woman of the future dons overalls to acquire an individuality that will make her the noble companion of the man of her choice.”
After having legally retired in October 1919, B. Moria died in 1927. She was buried at the Avon Cemetery, Seine-et-Marne, and her grave was decorated with one of her works.
Publication made in partnership with musée d’Orsay.
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