Louise Moillon: Seventeenth Century Still-Life Artist, An Illustrated Biography
by Helen Chastain Sowa
Reviewed by Richard L. Goodbar
Originally published in the February 1999 issue of The Cross of Languedoc
About the Book
This book on Louise Moillon is a labor of love. Helen Chastain Sowa's fine volume benefits art devotees and gives us as Huguenots additional reasons to be proud of our ancestry and heritage. Mrs. Sowa's biography of Louise Moillon brings long overdue attention to a major artist, who achieved remarkable fame during the 17th century when accomplished women artists were a rarity.
Mrs. Sowa has literally combed the holdings of museums in America and Europe in order to locate paintings by Mme. Moillon, discovering them in leading museums of the United States, France, Sweden, Germany, Spain, and England. During the artist's lifetime, King Louis XIII of France and Charles I of England owned Mme. Moillon's paintings. Today, Queen Elizabeth II of England has been reported to have four in her collection. Christie's of London sold one of her paintings in 1991 for £250,000 ($415,000).
The book traces Louise's life from the time she was born into a family of artists in 1610. Even as a young girl, Louise showed remarkable ability to draw and paint. Her father, a well known artist of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits, gave Louise her first lessons. He died when she was ten. Her mother remarried and again it was to an artist, who became Louise's second teacher. She sold her first painting when she was 19.
The book's value is considerably enhanced with 13 outstanding full-colored reproductions of her paintings and one black and white.
Mrs. Sowa, a native of Kentucky, attended Indiana University and Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. She was a patron of the arts and long-time member of The Art Institute of Chicago.
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