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 Claude (Claudine) Raguet Hirst  (1855 - 1942)



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Lived/Active: New York/Ohio      Known for: still life-often trompe, sculptor

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Ad Code: 2
Claude Hirst
from Auction House Records.
Still Life
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Claude Hirst specialized in small still-life paintings, usually of old books and pipes in the trompe l'oeil style.  She was unique as a trompe l'oeil painter in that she was the first woman of note to paint in this style and also because she preferred watercolor when other trompe painters were using oil.  Of her it was said that "she alternated between oil and watercolor with such facility that one critic noted 'It is difficult to distinguish the oils from the watercolors, so perfect is the execution in both.' " (Ledes 16).  She especially delighted in painting crisp-looking pages and worn-leather bindings of old books, which appealed to viewers following the vogue of antique book collecting.

Until the late 1880s, she painted still lives of flowers and fruit, but changed with the influence of William Harnett, noted trompe still life painter, who set up a studio next to hers in a New York City building at 30 East 14th Street.  She adopted his masculine subjects such as pipes and tobacco.

Hirst was born into a Cincinnati family whose fortunes fluctuated.  She began art studies at the Cincinnati Art Academy, then called the McMicken School, with John Noble, and subsequently moved to New York and studied with Agnes Abbatt, John David Smillie, and Charles Courtney Curran.  By the early 1880s, she was painting mostly small-scale floral still lives, with an average size of eight by ten inches.  These were followed by "bachelor" still lives, which were influenced by Harnett and which were masculine objects such as pipes, pouches, matches, etc.

Many persons thought she was a man because she, painting at a time when men dominated the art world, used the name Claude instead of her given name of Claudine. From 1882 to 1905, she exhibited with the National Academy of Design.  She married William Crothers Fitler in 1901 but continued to exhibit by using her maiden name.  She died in poverty and obscurity at the age of eighty seven and was buried at the expense of an artist's society.

Charlotte Rubinstein, American Women Artists
Allison Eckardt Ledes, 'Current and Coming', The Magazine Antiques, November 2004, p. 14.

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Claude (Claudine) Hirst is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Women Artists
Trompe l'Oeil Painting

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