Virtue and Sentiment: Madame Mouchette’s Art and Teaching in Melbourne 1881–1892

Author: ANDREW MONTANA
The French Australian Review No 70 (Australian Winter 2021): 20-41
WINNER OF THE 2021 IVAN BARKO AWARD

Australia in the early 1880s welcomed the professional artist and art teacher Berthe Mouchette from France, accompanied by her husband and her sister. Mouchette’s artistic and cultural influence was strong for well over a decade in Melbourne but she is absent from Australian art history, which has prioritised modernism and shunned flower painting, history painting and portraiture, subject genres in which Mouchette excelled.  This article provides a feminist perspective of Mouchette’s work and her contemporary impact. It reveals her French teaching methods and highlights her social networks to promote French culture and language. It shows how she fostered an appreciation of women’s art through her own example, and her student exhibitions, and how she expanded the public sphere in which women operated in an evolving society in Melbourne, prior to her departure for Adelaide due to the depression of the early 1890s.

Keywords: Berthe Mouchette, Australian art in the nineteenth century, Alliance Française de Melbourne


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