Rebecca Fortnum: Les Praticiennes
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
This display of paintings and drawings by artist Rebecca Fortnum emerges from her research on the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) and the assistants he used when making his work.
Fortnum conducted part of her research during her 2022 Henry Moore Institute Research Fellowship, which she spent looking at sculptural portraits by women who worked in Rodin’s studio.
Rodin devoted significant time teaching women to sculpt, before employing them. At that time, other artists seldom worked with women and, for the most part, women working in sculpture in turn-of-the-century Paris encountered prejudice. Each of Rodin’s assistants has an extraordinary, and in most cases unpublished, life narrative.
Fortnum has selected a series of sculptural works by twelve women who were associated with Rodin’s studio to make paintings from.
“In my selection these women are depicting women (often a friend or peer) with their eyes downcast or closed, looking away. I enjoy the ambiguity implicit in both the signalling of empowered absorption or self-containment alongside a reading of social conformity and female modesty. The viewer may decide which.”