The Art of Romaine Brooks at Smithsonian American Art Museum, June 17 – October 2, 2016

“Romaine Brooks (1874-1970) was an expatriate American who forged a life of exemplary modernity as she circulated among the most refined circles in Paris, London, and Capri during times of dynamic change. Her most active professional period, from 1910 to 1925, was one of political and cultural upheaval, punctuated by World War I and the dramatic shifts that resulted. As sole heir to a mining fortune after the death of her mother and brother, Brooks enjoyed a degree on independence unusual for women of the era and used her autonomy and privilege to challenge convention. Brook’s financial freedom meant she had complete control over her professional life, including the subjects she chose, how she painted them, and where she exhibited. She embraced innovation in her stylized forms, muted palette, and deft compositions, but she resisted abstraction in favor of the human figure and psychological exploration. Her subjects were almost exclusively women, but she refused to present them as objects. Instead she confronted the sexism of the period’s art and opposed prevailing conceptions of creativity as a male enterprise.” — Introductory wall text

brooks_madame errazuris

Romaine Brooks, Madame Errazuris, 1908 and 1910, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_azalees blanches

Romaine Brooks, Azalées Blanches (White Azaleas), 1910, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_la trajet

Romaine Brooks, Le Trajet, about 1911, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_la france croisee

Romaine Brooks, La France Croisée, 1914, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_ida rubinstein

Romaine Brooks, Ida Rubinstein, 1917, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_self portrait

Romaine Brooks, Self-Portrait, 1923, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_peter a young english girl

Romaine Brooks, Peter (A Young English Girl), 1923-1924, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_una lady troubridge

Romaine Brooks, Una, Lady Troubridge, 1924, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_la baronne emile d'erlanger

Romaine Brooks, La Baronne Emile D’Erlanger, about 1924, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_le duc uberto strozzi

Romaine Brooks, Le Duc Uberto Strozzi, 1961, oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_death and the peasant

Romaine Brooks, Death and the Peasant (La Mort et la Paysanne), 1930, pencil on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_departure

Romaine Brooks, Departure, ca. 1930, pencil on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_lethe

Romaine Brooks, Lethe, 1930, pencil on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

brooks_unity of good and evil

Romaine Brooks, Unity of Good and Evil (Unite du Bien et du Mal), 1930-1934, pencil on paperboard. Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist.

Images courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum