glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
arts

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Brooks, Romaine (1874-1970)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

After painting Peter's portrait, Brooks built a house with Natalie Barney at Beauvallon, France, near St. Tropez. To preserve their independence, the structure consisted of two wings that were united by a dining room.

Brooks's career reached its zenith in 1925 with three exhibitions of her work. The first was in Paris at the Galerie Jean Charpentier from March through April. The show traveled to the R. B. L'Alpine Club Gallery in London during June and ended in December at the Wildenstein Galleries in New York.

Sponsor Message.

While the exhibitions of 1925 were successful, Brooks painted few works after this time. She did, however, create two illustrations for Barney's book entitled The One Who Is Legion; or, A. D.'s After-Life. The book, about one person who had several different identities, was privately published in a limited edition of 450 copies in London during 1930.

During the same time, the artist began an autobiographical manuscript entitled No Pleasant Memories that, although composed over the next twenty years, was never published. One exhibition of Brooks's oeuvre was held at Galerie Théodore Briant in Paris during May 1931.

In the early 1930s, Brooks was haunted by childhood memories that led her to draw more than one hundred pen and ink works. These curious pieces consist of an intertwined single line that seems to symbolize Brooks's dependency and separation issues.

In the drawing, Caught (1930), for example, all the figures are entangled. Another drawing entitled The Impeders (1930) depicts a figure attempting to escape from enmeshed individuals. What the Saint Heard and Saw (1930) appears to illustrate the voices heard and visions seen by the artist's mentally ill brother.

A series of Brooks's drawings were exhibited at the Arts Club of Chicago in January 1935. Brooks traveled to America for the show and in 1936 rented a studio in Carnegie Hall, New York City, where she executed a portrait of the bisexual novelist and photographer, Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964). A portrait of the internationally known society hostess, lecturer, and writer Muriel Draper (b. 1886) followed two years later.

In 1939, as World War II began in Europe, Brooks returned to France to live with Barney in Villa Beauvallon. When the house burned in 1940, Brooks retreated to Italy, where she purchased Villa Sant'Agnes outside Florence. She wrote another unpublished memoir about these years entitled A War Interlude, or On the Hills of Florence during the War.

After World War II, Brooks faded from public life. Her artistic output ceased and she lived in isolation. She purchased the smaller Villa Gaia in Fiesole, where she remained until 1967. Amazingly, Brooks took up her brush again at the age of eighty-seven to paint a portrait of Umberto Strozzi (1961), a descendent of the famous Renaissance family.

In 1967, Brooks took a studio apartment in Nice. Within two years, Natalie Barney confessed that she had had an affair with another woman for the past seven years. This confession devastated Brooks, who could no longer cope with the hurt and jealousy she felt toward Barney, so she ended their long relationship.

Having grown increasingly eccentric while living in isolation, Brooks died alone at the age of ninety-six on December 7, 1970. Natalie Barney died two years later in Paris, having also reached the age of ninety-six.

Brooks's artistic legacy was honored with a retrospective exhibition entitled Romaine Brooks, Thief of Souls in 1971 at the National Collection of Fine Arts (now the National Museum of American Art). She had given her collection and private papers to the museum before her death. The same exhibition traveled again in 1980 under the title Romaine Brooks, 1874-1970. Individual works by Romaine Brooks were also included in numerous group exhibitions as art began to be studied through a feminist lens in the 1980s.

Most recently, in 2001, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. devoted a one-woman exhibition to Brooks's work entitled Amazons in the Drawing Room. It was the first time that a museum publication examined Brooks's lesbianism in relation to her art. At last, scholars are willing to see what Brooks made visible in life-sized paintings as long ago as the turn of the last century.

Ray Anne Lockard

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3    

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about The Arts
 
 


   Related Entries
  
arts >> Overview:  American Art: Lesbian, 1900-1969

American lesbian art in the earlier twentieth century was indelibly shaped by the expatriate experience and by the emergence of a more democratic art form, photography, as well as by the intense pressure following World War II to retreat into the closet.

arts >> Overview:  Erotic and Pornographic Art: Lesbian

Considering the unique set of problems facing lesbians who want to produce erotic art for the enjoyment of other lesbians, it is remarkable that so much lesbian erotica has been produced in so brief a time.

arts >> Overview:  Patronage II: The Western World since 1900

Patronage--the sponsorship of artists and the commissioning of works from them--has remained a significant factor in the creation of queer visual culture in the modern era.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Lesbian, Post-Stonewall

Since Stonewall lesbian photographers have created an enduring archive that documents lesbian lives, searches for a lesbian sensibility, and explores various issues of particular import to the lesbian community.

arts >> Overview:  Photography: Lesbian, Pre-Stonewall

The most significant examples of pre-Stonewall lesbian photography convey relationships, reflect lesbian iconography, or show the photographer looking at and recording her beloved.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Females

While nude depictions of women appear in most cultures, on both sides of the equator, and in rich variety, lesbian artists have been particularly resourceful in their use of the female nude.

literature >> Barney, Natalie Clifford

In addition to being the muse and inspiration of other writers, American expatriate Natalie Barney, known as the Amazon, was a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.

arts >> Cocteau, Jean

For prolific French poet and artist Jean Cocteau, filmmaking may have served as the best medium for the expression of his genius.

arts >> Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein)

The British artist Gluck (Hannah Gluckstein) defied the conventions of her class and time, but left her mark on the history of modern art in England.

arts >> Gray, Eileen

Renowned designer of furniture, rugs, and lacquered screens, Eileen Gray also gained fame as an architect who created elegant and spare residences.

literature >> Hall, Radclyffe

Radclyffe Hall, who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written.

literature >> Montesquiou-Fezensac, Count Robert de

Count Robert de Montesquiou was a writer during France's Belle Epoque, but he is best remembered as a dandy and an aesthete, who inspired the literary creations of others.

arts >> Parsons, Betty

American artist and gallery owner Betty Parsons retreated into the closet after World War II, but her support of gay, lesbian, and bisexual artists during a time of repression and her later candor are important contributions to glbtq history.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

arts >> Smyth, Dame Ethel

The most important female composer in early twentieth-century English music, Dame Ethel Smyth enjoyed a class privilege that allowed her to be an unapologetic lesbian.

literature >> Van Vechten, Carl

The gay novelist, critic, and photographer Carl Van Vechten was especially interested in African-American culture and was an influential patron to many writers of the Harlem Renaissance.


    Bibliography
   

Breeskin, Adelyn Dohme. Romaine Brooks. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: dist. for the National Museum of American Art by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986.

Chadwyck, Whitney. Amazons in the Drawing Room. Essay by Joe Lucchesi. [Exhibition: June 29-September 24, 2000, National Museum of Women in the Arts; October 11, 2000-January 21, 2001, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, University of California at Berkeley] Chesterfield, MA: Chameleon Books; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Elliott, Bridget. "Performing the Picture or Painting the Other: Romaine Brooks, Gluck and the Question of Decadence in 1923." Women Artists and Modernism. Katie Deepwell, ed. New York: Manchester University Press, 1998. 70-82.

Langer, Cassandra. "Transgressing Le droit du seigneur: The Lesbian Feminist Defining Herself in Art History." New Feminist Criticism: Art-Identity-Action. Joanna Frueh, Cassandra Langer, and Arlene Raven, eds. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. 306-326.

Lucchesi, Joseph Edward "'The Dandy in Me': Romaine Brooks's 1923 Portraits." Dandies: Fashion and Finesse in Art and Culture. Susan Fillin-Yeh, ed. New York: New York University Press, 2001. 153-184.

Secrest, Meryle. Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks. New York: Doubleday, 1974; London: Macdonald and Jane's, 1976.

Werner, Françoise. Romaine Brooks. Paris: Plon, 1994.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Lockard, Ray Anne  
    Entry Title: Brooks, Romaine  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 8, 2007  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/brooks_r.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.