Historical Women of Co|So

By Paige Roehrig on March 14, 2019

The Copley Society of Art has a long and illustrious history of famous artists exhibiting their work at Co|So. To celebrate Women’s History Month, this blog focuses on just a few of the many talented women who have exhibited their work at the Copley Society of Art over the years.

Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, Portrait of a Young Woman, ca. 1797, 32” x 27 ¾”, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, regarded as one of the most prominent portrait painters of 18th century France, showed at Co|So in 1896 during the Loan Collection of Portraits exhibition. A revolutionary figure from the beginning of her career, Vigée-Le Brun was rejected from formal training due to her gender and her art was criticized for being too modern for her time. Some critics even went as far as to say a male artist was finishing her work for her. Regardless of the harsh criticism, she eventually became the court painter for Marie Antoinette. You can currently see this portrait at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Mary Cassatt, Baby Getting Up from His Nap, ca. 1899, oil on canvas, 36 ½” x 29”, Metropolitan Museum of Art

This painting by Mary Cassatt was exhibited during the Copley Society’s Second Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art in 1902. The artist was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1844, but spent most of her life in Paris, where she worked with many notable Impressionists such as Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. The subject matter of this painting, of mother and child together, became a specialty of Cassatt’s after 1890. While Degas had a great influence on her paintings, Cassatt translated his popular subject matter of adult female bathers into a depiction of maternal care and love. In this piece, the mother washes her child in gorgeous garments after he awakes from his nap.

Loïs Mailou Jones, Self Portrait, 1940, casein on board, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Ever since her birth in 1905, Loïs Mailou Jones had strong Boston roots. Jones studied at the Boston High School of Practical Arts, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Designers Art School of Boston. During her seven decade-long career, she was an influential teacher and artist, working and exhibiting in many shows, including the “Contemporary Boston Afro-American Artists” exhibition at the Copley Society in 1989. Jones eventually moved to North Carolina to teach, where she established an art department at the Palmer Memorial Institute.

We hope you stop by the gallery to see the artwork of the contemporary female artists of Co|So in Small Works: Fruition and the winter Members Show: Renewal, both up until April 28th.