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Minerva Josephine Chapman (1858 - 1947) by Peter Falk

The period between the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and the 1913 Armory Show in New York found the whole art world bristling with changes. Many of the social strictures that had made a career difficult for women in a male‑dominated art world were lifting.  However, very real psychological barriers remained.  Domestic commitments took much time and energy, thereby inhibiting the full development of many women with artistic talent.  Of the many women able to study art, only a few forged successful art careers.


Minerva Josephine Chapman was one of those few successful pioneers in a new era.  Along with Mary Cassatt (1844‑1926) and Elizabeth Nourse (1859‑1938), Chapman led a life so immersed in her art that she probably never even considered a vocation as wife and mother.  Little has survived to tell us what Chapman was like as a person; her self-portraits show us a self‑confident and independent woman.  We also have a few letters, many newspaper clippings, and a large collection of her drawings, miniatures, pochades, oils, and her art instruction notebooks.[1]   Because we have so few personal papers, we must glean this collection of her work for some clues about her life and how she felt about her art.


In 1986 and 1987, the Mount Holyoke Museum of Art and the then new National Museum for Women in the Arts celebrated the rediscovery of Minerva Chapman.  Rather than lament another woman forgotten and denied critical recognition, this exhibition revealed an artist who displayed exceptional skill and won acclaim in two vastly different painting media: oil on canvas and watercolor miniatures on Ivory.  In 1906, Chapman was one of the first American women (along with Cassatt and Nourse) to be elected a member of the prestigious Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.  Hundreds of her works were accepted for important exhibitions over a fifty-year period.  She exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, and won two gold medals at the Panama‑California Expositions of 1915 and 1916.  At the Art Institute of Chicago, between 1897 and 1919, she exhibited forty-seven oils and was given a one-person exhibition there in 1908.  She exhibited at the Royal Academies of London and Brussels, and between 1897 and 1927, she showed forty-eight oils and one hundred twenty-four miniatures at the New Salon in Paris.


When, at age sixty-seven she returned permanently to the United States, she had earned an enviable reputation in Paris where she had resided for most of her artistic life.  Despite this, she chose to live a very private life In America.  At that time her brother described her as “too retiring” to continue promoting herself. Perhaps she had already accomplished what she had set out to do.  For Chapman, art had been more than a chosen career; it had been a way of life.


One of her cousins visited her in 1937 and later wrote:


“She has a very remarkable memory and can tell exactly the day and year she was at a certain place, or that a friend died.  Like all the Chapmans she has a mania for saving her living room are hung the pictures painted by her friends of which she is very proud, for some of these have become famous and she loves to tell their stories. Then there is the large studio with studio window, and skylight, and here are her large studies in oil.”[2]


Minerva Josephine Chapman was born on 6 December 1858, at Sand Bank, New York (later renamed Altmar) to James Lincoln Chapman and Agnes Barnes Chapman.  Her father owned a successful tannery business, but shortly after Minerva’s birth he moved the family to Chicago where three more children would be born.  James’s tannery business apparently enjoyed significant success, for he later founded and was first president of the First National Bank of Chicago.  Her family’s wealth insured her financial independence to pursue a career in the fine arts.


Chapman began her studies at the University of Chicago but transferred to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, in 1876.  During these two years at Mount Holyoke, none of her classes included art.  For reasons unknown, after her second year she returned to Chicago, taking private instruction in 1878 under Annie C. Shaw, the first woman academician of the old Chicago Academy of Design.  In 1880 Chapman was among the first students of the new Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, renamed the Art Institute of Chicago in 1882.  Shaw taught there in 1880-1881.  By 1886, when Chapman ended her studies there, it had become the largest art school in the country.


At the Art Institute of Chicago, John Vanderpoel (1857-1911) was the teacher who most influenced Chapman.  His book, The Human Figure, later became a standard reference in art instruction.[3] A disabled artist, he was well‑liked and excelled at figure painting.  At least one of Chapman’s several trips East during her six years at the Institute was made with Vanderpoel.  A group photograph dated 1882 shows that she attended a women’s summer painting class en plein air in central Pennsylvania that was taught by Vanderpoel and Alexander Shilling.[4]


In 1886, when the Institute offered to send Vanderpoel to Paris for specialized study, it is possible that his acceptance of the offer inspired Chapman to go there that same year. With her younger sister Blanche, she embarked for Paris.  Her earliest work there, dated April 1886, was done at nearby St. Cloud.  After the sisters traveled to Belgium and Holland, Chapman enrolled Blanche in a private school in Switzerland and continued on to Munich to study under Georg Jacobides (b. 1853 Greece; death date unknown), a successful genre painter.  Both her oil portraits and her charcoal drawings from life class there clearly show the influence of the bold Munich School.  Chapman returned to Paris in 1887 and began her studies at the Académie Julian.  Rodolphe Julian, the school’s founder, had persuaded prominent masters from the École des Beaux-Arts to make regular criticisms at his academy located in the Passage des Panoramas.  The classes were notoriously crowded.  In the women’s class, one drew exclusively from a live model.  During her two years there, Chapman also received instruction from William‑Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean‑Paul Laurens, and Tony Robert‑ Fleury.  She also mentions Gustave Courtois among her instructors, who was one of the most popular teachers at the Académie Colarossi.  She also made painting excursions into the countryside, at least once organizing a group of women to paint in Holland.[5]


By 1889 the Académie Julian became so heavily attended by American, English, and French students that branch studios were opened.  Three of them, on the rue de Berri, off the Champs Elysées, were for women only.  However, Chapman left at this time to study with Charles Lasar (1856‑1936).[6]  Like William Morris Hunt (1824‑1879) before him, Lasar was one of the few male instructors to champion women artists.  He attracted many students to his Montparnasse Studio; the majority were American and British women.  Lasar offered art theory and discipline as well as moral and intellectual support whereas at the Académie Julian, there was no continuity of discipline and no theory at all.  Like Chapman, Cecilia Beaux (1855‑1942) also began her study with Lasar in 1889.  Beaux remarked, “Until I went for a month’s criticism to Charles Lazar [sic], no word of theory was ever spoken by any of the masters who criticized me at the Julien [sic] Cours.”[7]  Lasar also conducted his classes outside the studio, giving landscape instruction en plein air throughout the French countryside and in England. Beaux went on to say that “Alexander Harrison and Charles Lazar [sic] each had a studio in the neighborhood. In fact, their presence had been an important factor in drawing us to Concarneau.”[8]


Certainly, Lasar must be acknowledged as Chapman’s most influential teacher, for she remained his student for eight years — actively recruiting women to join his classes.    Writing to her cousin in 1891, Chapman remarked, “Have had many home friends visting in Paris this Spring who have seemed to enjoy the sights and to now appreciate how much better our advantages in art are here than elsewhere.”  She continued, “I spent three months at the studio at work since I returned, two weeks in the country sketching and recruiting — then for two weeks have been copying at the Louvre.”[9]  Chapman’s extensive notes written in Lasar’s classes are filled with practical instruction in color theory and composition for painting landscapes, still life, and portraits, and blend elements of the Barbizon School with the growing Impressionist movement.  Interspersed are Lasar’s own philosophical comments reflecting the vigorous approach he took with his students.  Among the first words Chapman jotted in her notebook were: “Work. Ambition. Perseverance. Determination.”  These words foreshadow the seriousness of her lifelong commitment to art.  From her notebooks, we also learn that Lasar exhorted his students to “aim high, no means toward that end should lower that aim. Strike out strong . . . directly, frankly, then keep right on.”  He urged them to “keep away from [their] work.  Will it on . . . Never struggle.  Scream, but don’t struggle . . . Keep up the excitement no matter what happens.”[10]


Lasar was undoubtedly seeking to help his students find a style of their own, in part to spare women artists specific criticisms such as Monet’s comment, “La peinture à quatre mains.”[11]  Among the most vicious attacks were those of the British writer George Moore, who could find praise only for Berthe Morisot, claiming that “women have created nothing . . . They have carried out the art of men across their fans charmingly . . . They have hideously and most mournfully parodied the art of men.”[12]  Chapman’s notes also make it clear that Lasar strove to catalyze independent thinking: “Don’t ever give the world [too] much. You never want to satisfy the world with a picture . . . We don’t want to pin you down or you will go out into the world branded . . . Don’t analyze me, analyze nature.”  For instance, if a student appeared too preoccupied with details or delicate effects, he would advise against trying “for delicacy without power . . . Power is never seen, only suspected.”[13]


Chapman’s many excursions outside Paris during this time brought her to the picturesque towns of Barbizon, Chartres, Étaples, Pontoise and even to Rye, England. However, the town that she most frequented was Auvers-sur-Oise.  She wrote, “. . . possibly instead I shall go to Auvers-sur-Oise, only an hour from Paris, Daubigny’s old home of which I am very fond.”[14]  In fact, the first painting she listed in her exhibition records was titled Auvers, Cathedral Steps (date and location unknown).

Throughout the 1890s Chapman’s studio-residence was at 13 rue Boissonade, in Montparnasse, just a few blocks away from the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, the Académie Delecluse, the Académie Colarossi, and Lasar’s studio.  The neighborhood teemed with art students from all countries, but most were British and American.  At least six of Chapman’s friends at Lasar’s studio had also studied with Vanderpoel at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Jessie P. Lacey (b. 1865, death date unknown), a painter who was the subject of one of Chapman’s miniatures, later returned to the Institute to teach; however, today, most of those women are forgotten.  Of Lasar’s women students, only Cecilia Beaux, Minerva Chapman, and Violet Oakley (1874‑1961) went on to enjoy significant recognition.[15]


In 1897, after her first two still life paintings were accepted at the New Salon in Paris, Chapman returned to Chicago and established her studio at 10 Van Buren Street.[16]  She immediately began exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago and with the newly formed Society of Western Artists, whose annual exhibition traveled to major midwestern museums.  She also began to paint at the summer colonies of Petoskey, Michigan and Port Washington, Wisconsin. [17]


Chapman’s return to Chicago also signaled the beginning of her most prolific period, one that was marked by her success at major exhibitions as well as her mastery of a rediscovered medium — the miniature on ivory.  In 1900, the year she recorded her first miniatures, eight fellow Chicagoans were represented by miniatures at the Chicago Artists Exhibition.  It is possible these Chicagoans encouraged Chapman to take up this rediscovered medium, but by this time she was undoubtedly already aware of the 1890s revival in miniature painting in England and France.[18]


In 1903 Chapman returned to Paris.  Undoubtedly, she missed her friends and the stimulation of the city’s art colony.[19]  She reestablished her studio in Montparnasse, this time at 9 rue Falguière, just around the corner from Charles Lasar’s studio.  Although Chapman listed Lasar as her instructor from 1889 to 1897, they appear to have had a lasting friendship, as indicated by her two miniature portraits of him dated 1907.


By this time, Chapman was a fully mature and confident artist. Her determination to focus her life on her art not only contributed to her successes but could easily have been tied to her religious feelings.  The clippings in her scrapbook certainly point to this idea as a possibility.  Furthermore, it is likely that any American artist of strong religious fiber (as Chapman was) would have been sensitive to the concepts uniting art and religion as proposed by painter‑author Helen Bigelow Merriman (1844‑1933) in her book Religio Pictoris of 1899.  Merriman felt that the central idea of art should be a pursuit of a transcendent wholeness, one that was closely connected with, if not identical to, personality.  That wholeness, in turn, was an expression of an “all‑embracing divine Personality.”[20]  As both a religious person and as a dedicated artist Chapman must have been aware of and attracted to Merriman’s philosophy.  Accordingly, she may even have discovered that working in miniature expressed her spiritual awareness in a new, more specific way that her oils could not.


Chapman’s practice of miniature painting may reveal an empathy for the virtuous socialist doctrines of William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, who believed in the dignity and joy of beautiful hand work.  Morris, John Ruskin, and others proposed that such labors generated a kind of fulfillment helpful for all humanity in overcoming the depersonalizing effects of industrialization.  And particularly for women in their struggle with the male establishment, Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement provided a refuge.  Men, and society in general, welcomed women’s contributions to the Arts and Crafts movement as an innocuous, convenient distraction suitable to their sensitivities and free from male competition.[21] These ideas may have weighed on Chapman’s mind.


But it is really Chapman’s own work that we must rely upon in our attempt to understand her dedication to art.  The charm and intimacy of her miniatures are but attributes of their larger role in revealing her artistic personality.  However, to discuss her miniatures as a separate entity, isolated from her oils, would be a mistake.  It is by examining the different visual and mental demands of these two media that we gain new insights into the varied struggles of women artists.  During 1900‑1920, Chapman’s most prolific period, her art reveals a dichotomy of style as she moved between miniature and oil.  This dichotomy is of interest, for it may well be an expression of her struggle to achieve personal fulfillment as well as public recognition in the male-dominated art world.


The very medium of watercolor on ivory must be explained to understand this dichotomy, for it is perhaps the most stubborn of artistic methods.  The act of the painting itself requires the patient control of thousands of almost pointillist strokes made with a tiny “00000” size brush.  Moreover, ivory does not readily accept watercolor pigments, and the medium allows for limited variation.  The miniaturist can be seen as working more with the personality of the sitter than with the exploration of an image.  If her oils expressed her boldness as an individual, her miniatures spoke softly about her ego.  She assumed an unassertive role; through fine handwork she sublimated her ego for the sake of her subject and her art.


Chapman, challenged to overcome the inherent difficulties in mastering the demanding medium of miniature painting, was encouraged, and supported by the sisterhood responsible for reviving miniature painting as a viable art form.  She exhibited at the New Salon with several Parisian women who played particularly active roles as teachers of the art to many American women.  Among these teachers were Louise Gallet‑Levadé (1865‑ca. 1922), Marie Laforge (b. 1865, death date unknown), and Gabrielle Debillemont‑Chardin (1860/65­1957).  Debillemont‑Chardin is usually credited with the revival of miniature painting in France, owing to her popular Treatise on the Miniature published in 1903.  Miniature painting quickly became not only an acceptable profession, but a profitable one as well.  We know, for example, that in 1910 Chapman received 3,800 francs for one of her miniatures.[22]


With her oils, Chapman was released from the introspection required by her miniatures.  Whereas a miniature demanded close work for many hours (her record book indicates the completion of a miniature could take up to forty‑five hours over the course of many sittings), her oils were freer.  They liberated her from the tight style and exacting focus of miniatures.  If her miniatures suggest spiritual wholeness and empathy with her sitters, her oils revel in worldly light and color and in free, dashing brushwork.


This active practice in two media under two styles suggests how Chapman may have dealt with the problem of working within an establishment that had largely excluded women.  By excelling in miniature painting, she avoided the direct challenge of her male competitors.  She thereby enhanced her opportunity for award and public recognition, but consequently, her growing reputation as a miniaturist had all but displaced that of her oils.   Ultimately, that medium dominated her artistic vocabulary; miniature painting became the natural vehicle for attainment of two major goals: personal fulfillment and professional recognition in the art world.


Whether she was painting boldly in oil or minutely in watercolor on ivory, Chapman would undoubtedly have agreed with Helen Bigelow Merriman’s warning that an artist’s creations:


“…are not the product of individual industry, concentrated will, and headstrong determination. These qualities lead him to overdo the unimportant… He is forced to “go out and get a fresh eye or free himself from the thraldom of his own intellectual activity, before the whole, in its serene calm and clear expressiveness, will revisit his soul.”[23]


It was by alternating miniature painting with oil that Chapman would “go out and get a fresh eye,” freeing herself from the “thraldom” of details.  Undoubtedly, the “fresh eye” enabled her to return with new energy and perceptiveness to the painting of portraits in miniature.


The influence of Emile René Ménard (1862-1930) is a significant link between Chapman’s miniatures and her oils.  She sought private instruction trom Ménard who, although not a miniaturist, was known as an advocate of the pochade — a small oil sometimes complete but often used as a study for a larger work.  Chapman too was enthusiastic about the pochade, for more than one hundred fifty survive in her collection, all about 4 x 5 inches.  Her bravura brushwork in these small oiIs, and her intention of capturing the essence of a scene, provide a dramatic contrast to the refined, miniscule brushwork of her miniatures.  To move so dexterously between two modes of expression with two entirely different techniques, Chapman had to be an artist of uncommon ability.  At the same time, this habit suggests that she needed the emotional release and freedom of her oils as much as the discipline and spirituality required by her miniatures.


Chapman’s records show she painted 181 miniatures on ivory during her career.  Most of these portrait miniatures are of women, but fourteen are still life studies of assemblages of shells, vases, glasses, brasses, and other small objects.  Her miniature of Joan of Arc is the only historical portrait in the group.  Chapman may have been attracted to the ideals represented by this paragon of virtue.  Singularly moving is Chapman’s portrait of a young boy playing a mandolin entitled “Le Musicien.”  Although her young friend would soon die of tuberculosis, she found beauty in his gaunt complexion.  In 1908 these and other miniatures formed her solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago.  A critic remarked:


They are painted with a softness, and in some cases with a blurred aquarelle effect refreshingly in contrast to the customary tight overdefinition of these tiny portraits.  Many among them are clearly done for love.  One creamy boy’s head [“Le Musicien”] has been painted four times and a typical French bonne of the rural variety twice shows her kind tanned face under its white cap.  Indeed, one fears the quality of these miniatures will stand in the way of their popularity.[24]


After 1906 when she was elected an Associate Member of the New Salon, Chapman’s production of miniatures greatly increased.  Among her sitters were fellow Salon exhibitors Elizabeth Nourse, Charles Lasar, Jessie P. Lacey, and the Polish Post-Impressionist Olga de Boznanska (1865‑1945).  Chapman’s landscape painting continued, too, for in 1907 she had returned to Étaples to paint with a friend.[25]  By 1908 her reputation was well established, and she made an extended trip home to Chicago, listing her addresses in nearby Park Ridge and Arlington Heights.  In addition to her solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago, she made her debut at the American Society of Miniature Painters in New York.  Nevertheless, her heart remained in Paris, and she returned to her studio immersed in her work.  In 1909, she exhibited with the International Art Union of Paris, and served as its President until 1912.  However, in the summer of 1914 the outbreak of World War I forced her to leave for Rye, England.  After spending several months there and realizing that the war would be a protracted one, she returned to San Diego where she remained from 1915 to 1917.  In that interval a group of her miniatures twice won gold medals at the Panama-California Expositions in San Diego.


In 1917 Chapman went back to Chicago; in 1918, just before she returned to reclaim her old studio in Montparnasse, she revisited Mount Holyoke College and painted miniature portraits of several of the faculty there.  In Paris, she resumed exhibiting annually at the New Salon and accepted many commissions for portraits in miniature.  In 1924 the Musée du Luxembourg purchased her miniature Femme de Bretagne, 1904, for its permanent collection.


In 1925, at age sixty‑seven, Chapman returned to the United States for good.  A three-month visit with her brother and cousins in Palo Alto, California, convinced her to stay.  She bought a house on the edge of the Stanford University campus and added to it a two-storey 20 x 30-foot studio and a garden which eventually produced many varieties of flowers and fruit trees.


Chapman continued to exhibit her miniatures; her success assured.  She exhibited in both Paris and Chicago and became an active exhibitor with the California Society of Miniature Painters.  In 1925 she was given a solo exhibition of 113 of her miniatures at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts.  Her records show that she made her last miniature in 1932, for soon afterward her vision began to fail and she was forced to stop painting.


[1]Chapman Papers, Dial Collection, New York. Comprised of the following: 1. an art instruction notebook (here called Studio Diary), 3 x 2 inches, compiled by Chapman while studying under Charles Lasar from 1889 to ca. 1897; 2. an art instruction notebook entitled “Notes & Criticisms of Charles Lasar, Salisbury, July & August, 1900,” evidently compiled by another of Lasar’s Students and later given to Chapman; 3. a notebook (reproduced here Exhibition Record) containing Chapman’s complete exhibition record with titles of oils and miniatures; 4. ~a notebook listing her sitters for 181 miniatures in chronological order (1900‑32); 5. a scrapbook of various newspaper clippings entitled “Clippings”; 6. a file of miscellaneous letters, exhibition catalogues, and memorabilia.

[2]Unsigned typed transcription of a handwritten letter dated 11 July 1937. Chapman Papers, Dial Collection.

[3]John Vanderpoel, The Human Figure (Chicago, 1907).

[4]Alec J. Hammerslough, The Story of Alexander Shilling (Paisley Press, 1937) “During summers of last years in Chicago, Shilling and John Vanderpoel together organized sketching and painting classes, first going to Muskoka Lakes in Ontario, later to the Juniata and Lebanon Valley in Pennsylvania. From there, Shilling established in New York, reaching it in 12/5/1885.” Information courtesy Jimmie Lee Beuhler, Archivist, John H. Vanerpoel Art Association., letter, 5/20/1997.

[5]Letter from Jimmie Lee Beuhler, Archivist, John H. Vanderpoel Association, 5/20/97: “Miss Chapman found another class to stay at Vanderpoel’s cousin’s home in Holland. This is confirmed in a letter from Vanderpoel to Alexander Shilling dated 8/14/1889 that ‘Misses Haskell, Stanley, Scott, Chapman, Bouman, and a cousin of Miss Haskell comprise the company of Mr. Vanderpoel’s cousin’s house.’ ”

[6]Charles A.C. Lasar was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1856 and died in Neuilly (outskirts of Paris) in 1936.  His studio was located at 11 Impasse Ronsin in Montparnasse.  Owing to his French name and his Paris residence, this expatriate artist has often been mistaken as being French.  Chapman’s extensive notes based on his theory and instruction are the only record we have of this little‑known but influential American teacher in Paris.  In an 1891 letter [July 19, Paris] to her cousin, “Mira,” Minerva says “I spent three months in the studio at work since I returned, two weeks in the country sketching and recruiting — then for two weeks have been copying at the Louvre.”  It is possible that Minerva’s “recruiting” was for Lasar’s classes which became very popular with women.  His two best-known women students were Cecilia Beaux and Violet Oakley.  He was affectionately known around Paris as “Shorty.”  He even formed an American baseball team in there.

[7]Cecilia Beaux, Background with Figures (Boston, 1930), p. 127.

[8]Beaux, op. cit., p. 140.

[9]seven-page letter from Minerva Chapman to her cousin, “Mira,” 7/19/1891, Paris

[10]Art instruction notebook (Studio Diary) written while a student of Charles Lasar. Chapman Papers, Dial Collection.

[11]George Moore, Modern Painting (London, 1893), p. 226. “La peinture à quatre mains” is a degrogatory expression for “women painting like men.”

[12]Moore, p. 221.

[13]Art instruction notebook (Studio Diary), Chapman Papers, Dial Collection.

[14]seven-page letter from Minerva Chapman to her cousin, “Mira,” 19 July 1891, Paris

[15]Chapman was also friendly with Elizabeth Nourse; they apparently shared similar interests. Chapman made two miniature portraits of Nourse.  Traveling with her own sister, Nourse arrived in Paris in 1887, just a year after Chapman, and settled in the same Montparnasse neighborhood as Chapman.  Both Nourse and Chapman were devoutly religious and involved in charitable endeavors in Paris.  They became well known in circles of women artists.  Chapman joined her friend as a member of the American Woman’s Art Association.  Both were founding members of the Lodge Art League established for English‑speaking women under the auspices of the Episcopal Church in Paris.  For information on Nourse, see Mary A. H. Burke, Elizabeth Nourse: A Salon Career (exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1983).

[16]Pharmacy receipts among Chapman’s effects suggest that the primary reason for her return to the United States may have been to secure special treatment for both an eye ailment and chronic bronchitis, which she later decsribed as a “severe illness.” The latter may have been responsible for her move in 1915 to the drier climate of southern California, near San Diego.

[17]During this period Chapman also exhibited at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, and in New York at the National Academy of Design.  Her entry, New York Academy (location unknown), in the Pan-American Exposition suggests she might have studied briefly at either the National Academy or at William Merritt Chase’s New York School of Art.

[18]The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 had been responsible for the rapid decline of this popular art form.  Its revival in the 1890s can be attributed largely to the flowering of the Arts and Crafts movement, led by William Morris.

[19]Other reasons that may have reinforced Chapman’s decision to return to Paris are found in her special scrapbook.  One of her undated newspaper clippings therein describes a speech given by the Chicago author Lilian Bell, a suffragette who wrote many articles about American women abroad.  Bell supported the woman artist’s struggle for freedom in the face of provincialism and suggested the only way such an artist might achieve that freedom was through expatriation.  Certainly, Paris was not the ideal of equality for women artists, but as the international art center, it offered Chapman and other women artists more opportunity for advanced study and visibility through exhibitions.  Chapman’s scrapbook also helps us infer what she was like as a person. Astrology, numerology, and religion are among the subjects of the newspaper clippings.  Some deal with the doctrinal changes that the Presbyterian Church was undergoing at this time; others were reviews of sermons, such as one by a Chicago minister decrying the hedonism of Paris.  One clipping raises questions it doesn’t answer, for it describes the death of Gertrude Weil (birth and death dates, unknown), a young, art student from a wealthy Philadelphia family whose body was found in the Seine. Another clipping announces the death of the famous animal painter, Rosa Bonheur (1822‑1899), noting that the American painter Anna Klumpke (1856-1942) would be her sole legatee.

[20]Helen Bigelow Merriman, Religio Pictoris  (1899) p.20.

[21] Men largely ignored the tiny format of miniatures, undoubtedly feeling it a more appropriate province for women. As a result, the revival of miniature painting in the 1890s was led almost entirely by women.  In America, women accounted for at least 95% of the miniature painters during this period; the percentages in Europe were probably similar (author’s study of American miniature painters).  The revival formally dates its birth to 1895, the year the Royal Society of Miniature Painters was founded in London.  Shortly after, in 1899, its sister organization, the American Society of Miniature Painters, was founded in New York.  Other crafts, such as bookbinding and illumination, were also taken up and excelled in by women. Chapman herself showed an interest in bookplate design, possibly the result of her friendship with the French illuminator and bookbinder, Louise Germaine (b. 1860, death date unknown), whose portrait she made in miniature.

[22]Exhibition Record, Chapman Papers, Dial Colleciton.

[23]Merriman, op. cit., p. 1.

[24]Isabel McDougall, Chicago Record-Herald, 1/19/1908 in Art Institute of Chicago Scapbooks, vol. 23, p.123

[25]Chicago Record-Herald, 7/14/1907 in Art Institute of Chicago Scapbooks, vol. 23, p.41

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