Émilie Charmy: The Female Fauve

25 November - 23 December 2021

Connaught Brown is delighted to present an exhibition of paintings by Émilie Charmy, shedding light on a trailblazing artist who broke into the male dominated circles of the Parisian 20th century avant-garde. 



Born Émilie Espérance Barret on 2 April 1878 in Saint-Étienne, she adopted the surname Charmy upon moving to Lyon in 1898, where she studied painting under Jacques Martin.

In 1903 Charmy moved to Paris, the then epicentre of modernist painting. She began to use a freer and more intense palette alongside Matisse, Marquet and Camoin, with the latter becoming her lover. During this period she also turned to what would be her most daring subject matter – the female nude.

Within ayear she was exhibiting at the Salon des Indépendants and was at the forefront of Parisian modernism. In the seminal 1905 Salon d’Automne, in which Louis Vauxcelles coined the term ‘fauvism’, her work caught the eye of Berthe Weill, whose gallery was the first to sell Picasso’s work in Paris. As Charmy's reputation grew her work was selected for international exhibitions, including at The Armory Show of 1913 alongside the other Fauve artists, Matisse, Manguin, Rouault and Camoin.

With the outbreak of World War II attention on Charmy’s work began to fade and although she continued to paint and exhibit up until her late seventies, she never regained the recognition she enjoyed prior to the War. She died in 1974 at the age of 96.

This exhibition is formed of paintings from an important Private Collection, shown together for the first time in one display in London. Charmy’s works can now be found in Musée de Grenoble, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and the Art Institute of Chicago.