Claude Hirst, born Claudine, worked in the realistic style of still life painting known as trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”), which flourished in America at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Hirst’s intimately scaled oils and watercolors display her dazzling skill for rendering the surfaces and textures of objects. Hirst created paintings to appeal to both men and women, in contrast to her male colleagues, who painted primarily for a male audience.
Approximately 30 of the artist’s paintings are featured in the exhibition “Claude Raguet Hirst: Transforming the American Still Life.” It will be on view at the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 East Broad Street, January 15-April 10.
Hirst started her career painting still lifes of flowers and fruit. Later she adopted the typical subject matter of her male compatriots, such as pipes, dead game and newspapers. However, in many of her mature paintings Hirst included decorative objects and literary texts that spoke to the tastes and experiences of turn-of-the-century female viewers. By incorporating examples of the art pottery movement of the late Nineteenth Century into several of her works, Hirst celebrated the participation of women in the applied arts. Additionally, though she often painted in oil, she ingeniously employed watercolor (known as a “lady’s medium”) to mimic the detailed surfaces of trompe l’oeil oil paintings.
The exhibition highlights more than 30 paintings in oil and watercolor by Hirst, which have been loaned from museums and private collections throughout the United States. It also includes a selection of rare books that the artist painstakingly reproduced in her works.
Mark Cole, curator of American art at the Columbus Museum of Art stated, “Not only is the exhibition full of wonderful and astonishingly detailed paintings, it also adds significantly to our understanding of American art. The rediscovery of this previously neglected, yet fascinating artist is cause for celebration.”
“Claude Raguet Hirst: Transforming the American Still Life” is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art. Accompanying the exhibition is a full-length illustrated catalog authored by guest curator Martha M. Evans, who received her PhD from Columbia University, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on Hirst. The Henry Luce Foundation is the major sponsor for the exhibition and catalog.
On Sunday, January 30, at 2 pm, Evans will discuss the exhibition in the museum galleries. The recipient of a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship in American Art, Evans has extensively researched Hirst’s career and art and the catalog includes essays that examine Hirst’s biography and career as well as an interpretive essay that discusses Hirst’s influence on trompe l’oeil painting. To register, call 614-629-0359 or register online at www.columbusmuseum.org.
Admission is $10; $5 for members.
On Thursday, April 7, at 7 pm, Melissa Wolfe will lecture in conjunction with the exhibition “Claude Raguet Hirst: Transforming the American Still Life.” Admission is free.
For information, 614-221-4848 or columbusmuseum.org.