Cecilia Beaux painting of little girl

by Dr. Lori Verderame

It is a little known fact that I became an art historian because of a work of American art by Cecilia Beaux. It was an oil painting of a little dark-eyed girl entitled Ernesta and her Nurse dated 1894 that I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Cecilia Beaux was born in 1855. She was trained at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and at the Academie Julian in Paris among many of the fine artists of her day.

Cecilia Beaux

Beaux’s celebrity status as portrait artist to the social elite developed in art circles on both sides of the Atlantic. She grew to be one of the most prominent and sought after women artists and specifically, female portrait painters of the late 19th and early 20th century. Like her colleague, Mary Cassatt, Beaux trained with some of the best artists of the period including the French realist Bouguereau at the Academie Julian in Paris.

Beaux was a master at capturing the purity and innocence of youth and was known for her portraits of young children, mothers, and families. She attracted many wealthy patrons and worked in a representational style with a flair for American Impressionism.

Today, Beaux’s paintings do not come to market with regularity as many are retained by major museums and private collections. Compositions by Beaux in her traditional portrait style can command upwards of $25,000 to $150,000. Beaux remains a major force in the history of women in art history and American Impressionism.

Request an online appraisal of your Cecilia Beaux piece from Dr. Lori.