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Louise Catherine Breslau (Swiss, 1856-1927)


Also known as:  Breslau, Louise; Breslau, Marie Louise Catherine

Although Louise Catherine Breslau was one of the most sought-after portraitists in late 19th-century Paris, it has only been in recent years that art historians and dealers have revived interest in her work. She was born Maria Luise Katharina Breslau in Zurich and as a youth took drawing lessons with the local artist Eduard Pfyffer. Confident in her artistic abilities, Breslau entered the Académie Julian in Paris, and she became the Académie's only female student to debut at the Paris Salon of 1879, with her self-portrait with friends, Tout passé. Shortly afterwards, Breslau "Frenchified" her first name and opened an atelier in Paris. Positive reviews from critics, as well as continued Salon successes ensured that she received numerous portrait commissions from prominent clients. Her portraits illustrate her facility at rendering facial expressions and her sophisticated monochromatic palette and striated paint handling.

Notably, Breslau was the third woman to receive France's Légion d'honneur. During World War I, she painted humanistic portraits of French soldiers and nurses, underscoring her support of the country that had adopted her.

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