Femme au vase
28.6 cm x 21.85 cm (11 1/4 in. x 8 5/8 in.)
Paul Albert Besnard
(Paris, France, 1849 - 1934, Paris, France)
Medium and Support:
Drypoint and etching
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of the children of L.M. Tonkin, 1966
Having traveled to Morocco and Spain in the early 1890s, Besnard overwintered in Algiers in 1893-94. Like Delacroix decades before him, he was drawn to the sultry, closed interiors associated with the women's quarters. He was equally fond of Japanese prints; and he combined some of the organic, decorative motifs, flattened perspective and geometric partitioning of the surface found in them with a stifling orientalist compression of space to give us a modern French man's suspicious regard of women. Femme au vase foreshadows his famous etched series Elle (1900), in which an allegory of death is portrayed as a woman – probably one of the best pictorial essays on the notion of the femme fatale commonly held at the end of the nineteenth century.