Since the Charlotte Morel portfolio that we acquired a few years back, we've had our eye out for more portfolios - specifically from female French and European artists. By luck, we recently found one from Juliette Stivenart-de Reul. Similar to Charlotte's portfolio, Juliette's works were grouped in with a sale of paintings from her husband's atelier.
Both Juliette and Charlotte were artists during the late 1800's and early 1900's in France, when women were just beginning to be allowed to pursue formal arts educations through the Beaux-Arts. Both women attended the schools, according to records, being part of the first wave of women ever admitted, and undoubtedly facing challenges and breaking stereotypes
Juliette's portfolio arrived to us in 3 old academic folders covered in cobwebs and crackling with dust. Luckily, the drawings and paintings they contained were mostly in fairly good shape, aside from bent corners and small moth-eaten holes in some of the paper edges. We were able to gently dust and clean the portfolio, sort the pieces, and preserve the delicate papers in plastic for posterity.
We hope you will appreciate the research we were able to find on Juliette, and enjoy her works, the first of which will be released Sunday June 18th here on our website.
About the artist: Juliette Stievenart-de Reul was a French and Belgian avant-garde artist, born on July 14, 1872. She was the daughter of a Belgian geologist and novelist. Gifted in drawing from a very young age and encouraged by her family, she was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
During the 1890s, Stievenart-de Reul moved to Montmartre and frequented the neighborhood's cafés and workshops, mingling with other emerging artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Edgar Degas.
A match for her environment and Montmartre at the time, she was full of energy and explored avant-garde concepts through oil painting, drawing, watercolor, and pastels. Her technique is characterized by a fusion of classical and modern influences, with a particular affinity for Impressionism. She experimented with new compositions and perspectives, and ventured into various representational techniques, ranging from lines and geometric shapes to expressive distortions.
Stievenart-de Reul stood out as a rarity of her time by her gender and her mastery of contrasts. She often utilized light and shadow to create striking visual effects, both in her pencil sketches and also in her oil paintings.
In 1889, she joined the L'Ecole de Wissant, a hub of sustainable artistic creation located in a small fishing village in the north of France. There, she sought the light and was drawn to the red roofed houses. It was there that she met the painter Fernand Stiévenart (1872-1922), her future husband and artistic partner.
Juliette's husband, Fernand Stievenart.
In the 1900's, Stievenart-de Reul became actively involved in political and social movements. She joined feminist groups and participated in protests for women's rights and gender equality. This political commitment sometimes found its reflection in her art.
Throughout her career, Stievenart-de Reul exhibited her works in prestigious galleries in Paris, London, and New York. Her paintings were known for their masterful technique, vibrant colors, and, above all, their constant pursuit of conveying deep emotions.
Despite these accomplishments, Stievenart-de Reul's career was always more discreet than her husband's. Fortunately, she was encouraged by her mentor Virginie Demont-Breton at a time when women were little recognized in the art world. Fernand Stiévenart and Juliette de Reul settled in Uccle in the southwest of Brussels in 1913 where they died respectively in 1922 (January 22) and 1925. They left behind an artistic contribution that remained hidden for nearly a century.
A 2022 Exhibition dedicated to the artist couple in Pas de Calais.