Gynning Margareta, Det ambivalenta perspektivet : Eva Bonnier och Hanna Hirsch-Pauli i 1880-talets konstliv, Stockholm, Bonnier, 1999
Hanna Pauli, Siri Tahsman, Anna Sjödahl, Konstmuseum, Göteborgs, 1989
Hanna Hirsch-Pauli was born Hanna Hirsch, one of eight children of Pauline Meyerson and the music editor Abraham Hirsch, whose paternal grandfather, David Hirsch, immigrated to Sweden from Germany and obtained Swedish nationality in 1821.
Hirsch trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts under August Malmström – a professor there from 1867 to 1894 and director from 1887 to 1893. At the academy she met future portrait painter Eva Bonnier, seven years her elder. The two met again in Paris, in the Académie Colarossi, and became housemates. Hirsch stayed in the French capital from 1885 to 1887; her portrait of her Finnish friend and fellow student Wendla lrene Soldan Brofeldt, more commonly known as Venny Soldan, was accepted at the 1887 Salon (The Artist Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, 1886-87).
Most of the young artists enrolled at the Académie Colarossi or the Académie Julian at this time, when the avant-garde was breaking away from academic painting, steered a middle path between the two. The majority, like Hirsch, were more inclined toward naturalism, admiring painters such as Jules Bastien-Lepage or Jules Breton.
ln 1887 Hirsch married Georg Pauli, who had been similarly trained. Along with other Swedish painters and sculptors, Georg Pauli formed part of the group Opponenterna (the Opponents), created in 1885 and inspired by the art they encountered in Paris. The couple spent one year in Italy. A few years later, upon returning to Sweden, Georg Pauli was named director of the school of painting and drawing affiliated with the Gothenburg Museum. Hirsch-Pauli concentrated on portraits, often depicting writers from the couple’s entourage – Verner von Heidenstam; Selma Lagerlöf; and the Swedish feminist writer Ellen Key, with whom Hanna shared ideas, and whom she depicted lecturing to a group of friends (The Friends of Ellen Key, c. 1900-1907). She received a third-class medal al the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, and the art historian Léonce Bénédite cited her among Swedish artists in his account of the 1900 fair: “Leading a series of talented portraitists is M. Bjôrk, author of Portrait of Prince Eugène… followed by MM. Bergh and Thegerstrôm, Mrs. Hanna Pauli, M. Georg Pauli, M. Aron Gerle, etc.” Hanna Pauli died in 1940, having established a reputation as both a significant artist and a modern thinker.
© 2017 American Federation of Arts, originally published in Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900 by the American Federation of Arts in association with Yale University Press
Hanna Hirsch-Pauli, Portrait of Artist Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, 1887, oil on canvas, 125.5 x 134 cm, Goteborgs konstmuseum
Hanna Hirsch-Pauli, A Bavarian Peasant Girl, 1885-1887, oil on canvas, 91 x 73 cm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm
Hanna Hirsch-Pauli, The Friends of Ellen Key, 1900-1907, oil on canvas, 204 x 260 cm, Nationalmuseum Stockholm