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Hirst, Claude Raguet [American, 1855-1942] 











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Hirst, Claude Raguet [American, 1855-1942]

[ 20th Century Artists | Still Life Artists ]

Claude Hirst — born Claudine — was the only acclaimed woman to work in the realistic style of still life painting known as trompe l'oeil(“fool the eye”), which flourished in America at the turn of the 20th century. Hirst's intimately scaled oils and watercolors display her dazzling skill for rendering the surfaces and textures of objects.

Hirst started her career painting still lifes of flowers and fruit. Later she adopted the typical subject matter of her male compatriots, such as pipes, dead game, and newspapers. However, in many of her mature paintings Hirst included decorative objects and literary texts that spoke to the tastes and experiences of turn-of-the-century female viewers. By incorporating examples of the art pottery movement of the late-nineteenth century into several of her works, Hirst celebrated the participation of women in the applied arts. Additionally, though she often painted in oil, she ingeniously employed watercolor (known as a “lady's medium”) to mimic the detailed surfaces of trompe l'oeil oil paintings.

During the mid-1890's Hirst's focus shifted to still lifes in which antique volumes were prominently featured, reflecting the concurrent vogue for rare book collecting. In these incredibly detailed paintings, Hirst was able to render the entire text of a page legibly or replicate an engraving from a book. In many instances the books can be identified and compared line by line with their sources, some of which are classic eighteenth century books advocating women's rights. (right: Claude Raguet Hirst, Still Life with Lemons, Red Currants, and Gooseberries, ca.1885–90, watercolor on illustration board. Berry-Hill Galleries, New York)

The exhibition highlights more than thirty paintings in oil and watercolor by Hirst, which have been loaned from museums and private collections throughout the United States. It also includes a selection of rare books that the artist painstakingly reproduced in her works. Mark Cole, Curator of American Art at the Columbus Museum of Art states, “Not only is the exhibition full of wonderful and astonishingly detailed paintings, it also adds significantly to our understanding of American art. The rediscovery of this previously neglected, yet fascinating artist is cause for celebration.”

There is a book on Hirst and her work: Claude Raguet Hirst: Transforming the American Still Life by Martha M. Evans.

[*] RS Archive pages at Powell's Books

  Hirst, Claude Raguet [American, 1855-1942]

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