Carlier Sylvie (ed.), Émilie Charmy, 1878-1974, exh. cat., Musée Paul-Dini, Villefranche-sur-Saône (12 October 2008–15 February 2009), Villefranche-sur-Saône, Musée Paul-Dini / Somogy, 2008
Émilie Charmy, 1878-1974, Musée Paul-Dini, Villefranche-sur-Saône, 12 October 2008–15 February 2009→
Émilie Charmy, The Fralin Museum of Art, Charlottesville, 23 August 2013–2 April 2014
An orphan at the age of 15, Émilie Charmy was taken in by relatives in Lyon and studied at a private catholic school to become a teacher. However, she refused to follow this path, instead choosing to attend the classes of a local painter, Jacques Martin, who introduced her to Lyon’s Modern painting circles as from the late 1890s. She moved to Paris with her brother around 1902 and began participating in the Salon des Indépendants in 1904 and Salon d’Automne as from 1905. There, she befriended several members of the Fauvist movement. In 1926, her work was shown with Colette’s at the exhibition Quelques toiles de Charmy, quelques pages de Colette at the Galerie d’Art ancien et moderne. Her paintings stood out in that they sought to transcend “feminine art” in their choice of subjects and bold manner characterised by strong, thick brushstrokes.
While she often depicted classic scenes such as still lives and portraits, she also painted the inside of a brothel (La Loge, galerie Bernard Bouche, Paris, circa 1900-1903) and a great number of female nudes (Sleeping Nude, Patrick Seale collection, circa 1925). She was noticed by Berthe Weill (1865-1961) at the 1905 Salon d’Automne and showed her work several times at her gallery. While she gained significant critical acclaim in the interwar period, she was forgotten after World War II. The major retrospective of her work at the Musée de Villefranche-sur-Saône in 2008 finally enabled the public to rediscover the work of this atypical painter.
Émilie Charmy, Autoportrait, 1935, oil on cardboard, 46 x 38 cm, Estate Émilie Charmy, © ADAGP, Paris
Émilie Charmy, Jeune femme à la seringue, 1898, oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm, Estate Émilie Charmy, © ADAGP, Paris
Émilie Charmy, Autoportrait, 1907, oil on cardboard, 92 x 65 cm, Estate Émilie Charmy, © ADAGP, Paris
Émilie Charmy, Autoportrait, circa 1919, oil on canvas, 195 x 97 cm, Estate Émilie Charmy, © ADAGP, Paris