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 Eugenie Etienette Aubanel Lavender  (1817 - 1898)



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Lived/Active: Texas / France      Known for: religious, still life, portrait, and genre painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Though Eugenie Aubanel Lavender was born in Bordeaux, France on Christmas Day in 1817, and grew up in Paris, she became one of the pioneer women artists of the American West.  A student of Ary Scheffer and Paul Delaroche at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and a classmate and friend of Rosa Bonheur, Lavender enhanced her studies by copying the Old Masters* in the Louvre Museum.  She also worked as an art restorer.

Lavender emigrated to the United States in the early 1850s with her two children and husband, Charles Lavender, whom she had married in 1846.  Though she was essentially a religious painter, in the 1850s Lavender painted many Texas landscapes incorporating state wildflowers like bluebonnets and purple mountain laurel.  Interestingly, if she was short of paints, she substituted clay mixed with the juices of plants.

The Lavenders traveled from New Orleans, Louisiana, in a covered wagon, passing through Houston, and eventually settling in the tiny community of Waco, Texas. Life was difficult and dangerous for the young French family on the mid-19th century Texas frontier, whether from wild animals or Indians.  Around 1853, her husband established Audubon College in New Orleans, Lavender accompanying him there.  She returned to Texas--Corpus Christi--around 1876, after her husband's death.  She painted and taught art for twenty years, completing a five by ten-foot painting of St. Patrick a year or so before her death on September 2, 1898.

Though little of Eugenie Lavender's work remains, it may be seen in the collections of the Witte Museum, San Antonio, and Convent of the Incarnate Word, Corpus Christi.

References: Groce & Wallace; Barker; Petteys; Dawdy 1; Samuels &. Samuels, Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia; O'Brien; Pinckney; Steinfeldt; Trenton; Borromeo, "Biography of Mrs. C. Lavender, Artist," n.d., Sacred Heart Academy, Galveston, Texas; Louisiana Historical Quarterly 30 (1947); New Orleans Bee, August 24, 1858; Corpus Christi Caller, September 9, 1898; La Retama Public Library, Corpus Christi.

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

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