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Azalées Blanches (White Azaleas)

1910 Romaine Brooks Born: Rome, Italy 1874 Died: Nice, France 1970 oil on canvas 59 1/2 x 107 in. (151.1 x 271.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the artist 1966.49.5 Not currently on view


Exhibition Label

Azalées Blanches was one of Brooks's first paintings of the female nude and the earliest in which she presented an openly erotic figure. The female nude was a ubiquitous subject for Brooks's male contemporaries, but in 1910 a female artist's depiction of the theme was relatively unusual. Brooks's inclusion of this frankly sexual work in her debut exhibition at Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris was a provocative gesture. Referring to this moment in her unpublished memoir, Brooks wrote, "I grasped every occasion no matter how small, to assert my independence of views." Audience members also recognized Brooks's challenge; a reviewer compared it to Édouard Manet's iconic modern nude Olympia (1863).

The Art of Romaine Brooks, 2016

Keywords

Architecture Interior - domestic - house

Figure female - full length

Figure female - nude

Object - flower - azalea

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas