Marie Bracquemond (1 December 1840 – 17 January 1916) was a French Impressionist artist, who was described retrospectively by Henri Focillon in 1928 as one of "les trois grandes dames" of Impressionism alongside Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt.Her frequent omission from books on artists is sometimes attributed to the efforts of her husband, Félix Bracquemond
Bracquemond spent her childhood in Étampes where she studied drawing with an artist named Wassor. At the age of 16 she sent two drawings to the Salon de Paris and was recommended to Ingres who accepted her as his pupil. It was during her time with Ingres that she met Félix Bracquemond, going on to marry him in 1869. Through her husband she met Courbet, Edmond de Goncourt, Degas, Manet, Fantin-Latour and Paul Gauguin, but the artist she most admired and who had the most lasting influence on her work was Claude Monet.
She exhibited with the Impressionists in 1879 and 1880. Gustave Geffroy placed her alongside Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt and Eva Gonzalès.
Félix and Marie Bracquemond worked together at the Haviland studio at Auteuil where her husband had become artistic director. She designed plates for dinner services and executed large Faience tile panels depicting the muses, which were shown at the Universal Exhibition of 1878.
She began having paintings accepted for the Salon on a regular basis from 1864. As she found the medium constraining, her husband's efforts to teach her etching were only a qualified success. She nevertheless produced nine etchings that were shown at the second exhibition of the Society of Painter-Etchers at the Galeries Durand-Ruel in 1890. Her husband introduced her to new media and to the artists he admired, as well as older masters such as Chardin. She was especially attracted to the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens. Between 1887 and 1890, under the influence of the Impressionists, Bracquemond's style began to change. Her canvases grew larger and her colours intensified. She moved out of doors (part of a movement that came to be known as plein air), and to her husband's disgust, Monet and Degas became her mentors.
Many of her best-known works were painted outdoors, especially in her garden at Sèvres. One of her last paintings was The Artist's Son and Sister in the Garden at Sèvres. Bracquemond participated in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880, and 1886. In 1879 and 1880, some of her drawings were published in La Vie Moderne. In 1881, she exhibited five works at the Dudley Gallery in London.
In 1886, Félix Bracquemond met Gauguin through Sisley and brought the impoverished artist home. Gauguin had a decisive influence on Marie Bracquemond and, in particular, he taught her how to prepare her canvas in order to achieve the intense tones she now desired.
Unlike many of her Impressionist contemporaries, Bracquemond spent a great deal of effort planning her pieces. Even though many of her works have a spontaneous feel, she prepared in a traditional way through sketches and drawings. Although she was overshadowed by her well-known husband, the work of the reclusive Marie Bracquemond is considered to have been closer to the ideals of Impressionism. According to their son Pierre, Félix Bracquemond was often resentful of his wife, brusquely rejecting her critique of his work, and refusing to show her paintings to visitors. In 1890, Marie Bracquemond, worn out by the continual household friction and discouraged by lack of interest in her work, abandoned her painting except for a few private works.
She remained a staunch defender of Impressionism throughout her life, even when she was not actively painting. In defense of the style to one of her husband's many attacks on her art, she said, "Impressionism has produced ... not only a new, but a very useful way of looking at things. It is as though all at once a window opens and the sun and air enter your house in torrents."
She died in Paris on January 17, 1916. Bracquemond was included in the 2018 exhibit Women in Paris 1850-1900.