Louise Abbema Biography and Paintings

Louise Abbema

Louise Abbema (1853 – 1927)

French Painter, engraver and sculptor, Louise Abbema was born in Étampes on October 30, 1853 where her father, Viscount Abbema, was then station master. A unique and pampered girl, if not adored by her parents, very early on drawing, Louise was very young at the school of Charles Chaplin (1825-1891), Jean-Jacques Henner (1829-1905) and Carolus- Duran (1837-1917). There is online, as well as in this Corpus, a game of croquet, which she painted at the age of 19 years.

The preserved work of Louise Abbéma is abundant as well as varied, because this artist has always deliberately kept herself from too narrow a specialization. We owe her as many portraits as decorative panels, illustrations, fans, advertising drawings. A thousand other achievements on various themes and supports.

Louise Abbéma obtained her first success at age 23 (and not 18) with a Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt (1876), of which she became the appointed portrait painter. The liaison she had for a long time with this actress was notorious, and well accepted in the good-natured society of the time. It is still the subject of a discreet allusion in a play by Feydeau in 1894, The Ribbon, which we put online.

Louise Abbema Exhibitions

She was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon, where she received an honorable mention for her panels in 1881. Abbéma was also among the female artists whose works were exhibited in the Women’s Building at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in in Chicago. A bust of Sarah Bernhardt sculpted of Abbéma was also exhibited at the exposition.

In addition to many portraits, Louise Abbéma painted a lot of decorative panels, with a predilection for floral subjects, in the form of etchings, watercolors, pastels or gouaches. Some of these panels covered the walls of the Hôtel de Ville and several Parisian town halls. She has also worked for magazines such as the Gazette des Beaux-Arts and L’Art. She has illustrated various works, including La Mer by René Maizeroy.


Louise Abbema specialized in oil portraits and watercolors. Many of her works showed influence from Chinese and Japanese painters, as well as contemporary masters such as Édouard Manet. She frequently depicted flowers in her works. Among her best-known works are The Seasons, April Morning, Place de la Concorde, Among the Flowers, Winter, and portraits of actress Jeanne Samary, Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil, Ferdinand de Lesseps, and Charles Garnier.


At the Piano
Elegant Woman on a Winters Walk
Lunch in the Greenhouse

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