Model, circus performer and artist! Suzanne Valadon features in free exhibition at Pallant House Gallery

Pallant House

Suzanne Valadon is just one of the artists to feature in a free exhibition in Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery starting later this month.

The De’Longhi Print Room exhibition considers the challenges faced by women artists working in the early 20th century.

It brings together representations of women created by women artists from the gallery’s extensive prints and drawings collection. Works by Valadon, Laura Knight, Prunella Clough and Paula Rego looks at how their representations of women have evolved to the present day.

Suzanne Valadon

Suzanne Valadon, Untitled (Three figures in a landscape), 1904, Etching on paper, Pallant House Gallery (Michael Woodford Bequest 2015)

Throughout history women have been usually characterised within the narrow stereotypes of the virgin, the mother or the harlot and idealised as muse to invoke a particular view of beauty, femininity and sexualized object of desire.

Women artists’ representations of women challenge these traditional narratives and can be read as historical documents that enable a greater understanding of the period in which they were created.

Early works by artists such as Valadon (1865-1938) and Marie Laurencin (1883-1956) were created in a period where women artists began to turn to the female body as the primary subject for women’s experience.

Valadon, the daughter of an unmarried domestic worker, grew up in Montmartre and became an artist’s model in the early 1880s after working as a circus performer. She became known in particular for her female nudes which depicted her models as awkward, solid and unidealised; far removed from contemporary notions of the female form in art.

Main picture credit: Cathie Pilkington’s work (Cathie Pilkington, Eve + Eve, n.d., mokulito lithograph & hand colouring, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (The Golder – Thompson Gift, 2015) © The Artist)

Women Artists: The Female Gaze will be on display in the De’Longhi Print Room at Pallant House Gallery from 28 June – 15 October 2017. Entry to the De’Longhi Print Room is free.

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Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son. And he is a life-long Arsenal fan.