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The Cavé Method: Reproduction and Expression in the Project of a “School for Women”

Luciana Lourenço Paes


Marie-Élisabeth Cavé (1806–1883) published her method for teaching drawing and painting to young women in the early 1850s. Le Dessin sans maître: méthode pour apprendre à dessiner de mémoire (Drawing without a master: learning to draw from memory) was published in 1850 and L’Aquarelle sans maître: méthode pour apprendre l’harmonie des couleurs (Watercolour without a master: learning colour harmony), came out in 1851 and was republished the following year with the title La Couleur: pour apprendre la peinture à l’huile et l’aquarelle (Colour: learning oil painting and watercolours). But why create a method specifically for women? What relationships are there between Cavé’s motivations to create her method and the ensuing results? In order to answer these questions, the author has cross-referenced biographical data with an analysis of the historical context, of sources and of the reception of the Cavé Method at the time. We are therefore able to see what the method borrowed from and added to the tradition of drawing instruction in France, especially in Paris.


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