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Meeting

Collection: 
Musée d’Orsay, Paris

 

Bashkirtseva’s friend Mathilde Blind give a good idea of what contemporaries thought of this painting:
The Meeting, her most important work, is a fine, powerfully painted, vividly realized picture. Just a group of Paris gamins [urchins] met in council at a street corner, discussing the use to which a piece of string is to be applied, with the excitement of stockbrokers buying and selling shares on the steps of the Bourse [stock exchange]. It is a triumph of realism. The faces speak, the limbs are informed with life; it seems as if any moment their legs and arms might begin to move quite naturally. There is nothing conventional about these figures, so fresh in their unstudied attitudes and gestures. These faces, bathed in the pale air of a Paris back street, breathe quite as much of town life as the discolored walls and palings in the background. How pert, how Parisian, how wide-awake they are, with their thin, sharp-edged features and their gimlet eyes which allow nothing to escape them. The biggest of the six, with his back to the spectator, is eloquently holding north to his intently listening comrades, even as he may one day hold forth to quite a different kind of audience, when,after due graduation in the philosophy of rags, he shall begin to practice the lessons which the stony streets have taught him. Quite a different lesson from that which Bastien-Lepage’s shepherds have learnt on the hillsides of the wooded Meuse [River]. The execution of this picture, hung in a place of honor at the Luxembourg {Museum], is extremely good. There is a genuine feeling for color in the grey and somber tones in harmony with the nature of the subject. The open-air effect is happily caught, and the faces stand out in brilliant light. The powerful realism, scrupulous technique, and excellence of the painting make a great success of The Meeting, and it is a performance which at once secured a wide recognition for Marie Bashkirtseff, not only in artistic circles, but from the general public." 
Mathilde Blind, “A Study of Marie Bashkirtseff,” in André Theuriet, Jules Bastien-Lepage and His Art. A Memoir (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1892), pp. 172-3. 

 

About the Artist

Born: Gavrontsi, Ukraine, 24 November 1858
Died: Paris, 31 October 1884
Nationality: Ukrainian