Elizabeth Nourse


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Painter. Remembered primarily for sympathetic studies of peasant life, often centering on women and children, she also painted still lifes and landscapes. She worked in Paris throughout her professional life. Her direct realism and painterly touch allied her work of the late 1880s and 1890s with progressive taste mediating between academic tradition and impressionist innovation. After 1900, her brushwork showed greater interest in the light and transience of impressionism. Born in Mount Healthy, Ohio, Nourse studied for several years in nearby Cincinnati at the McMicken School of Design (now Art Academy of Cincinnati). In 1882 she started some months of study at the Art Students League, but then returned for additional training at McMicken. In Cincinnati she also participated in the city's enthusiasm for the aesthetic movement, trying her hand at decorative arts media. (Her artistically inclined twin sister, Adelaide Nourse [1859–93], married one of the city's leaders in the movement, Benn Pitman [1822–1910], and remained involved with decorative projects.) In 1887 Nourse left for Paris, where she subsequently made her home. With years of artistic experience behind her, she studied for only a short time in Paris before establishing herself as an independent professional. She sometimes painted outdoors, in search of the tonal unity seen in the paintings of such artists as Jules Bastien-Lepage, who particularly influenced her treatment of peasant subjects. She visited the United States only once, in 1893, but abroad she traveled widely, from Russia to North Africa, often depicting local scenes in her work. She continued to exhibit regularly until 1924 and died in Paris.

Subjects: Art.

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