1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bashkirtseff, Maria Constantinova

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BASHKIRTSEFF, MARIA CONSTANTINOVA [MARIE] (1860–1884), Russian artist and writer, was born at Gavrontsi in the government of Pultowa in Russia on the 23rd of November 1860. When Marie was seven years old, as her father (marshal of the nobility at Pultowa) and her mother were unable through incompatibility to live together, Madame Bashkirtseff with her little daughter left Russia to spend the winters at Nice or in Italy, and the summers at German watering-places. Marie acquired an education superior to that given to most girls of her rank. She could read Plato and Virgil in the original, and write four languages with almost equal facility. A gifted musician, she at first hoped to be a singer, and studied seriously in Italy to that end; her voice, however, was not strong enough to stand hard work and failed her. Meanwhile she was also learning to draw. When she lost her voice she devoted herself to painting, and in 1877 settled in Paris, where she worked steadily in Tony Robert-Fleury’s studio. In 1880 she exhibited in the salon a portrait of a woman; in 1881 she exhibited the “Atelier Julian”; in 1882 “Jean et Jacques”; in 1884 the “Meeting,” and a portrait in pastel of a lady—her cousin—now in the Luxembourg gallery, for which she was awarded a mention honorable. Her health, always delicate, could not endure the labour she imposed on herself in addition to the life of fashion in which she became involved as a result of her success as an artist, and she died of consumption on the 31st of October 1884, leaving a small series of works of remarkable promise. From her childhood Marie Bashkirtseff kept an autobiographical journal; but the editors of these brilliant confessions (Journal de Marie Bashkirtseff, 1890), aiming apparently at captivating the reader’s interest by the girl’s precocious gifts and by the names of the various distinguished persons with whom she came in contact, so treated certain portions as to draw down vehement protest. This, to some extent, has brought into question the stamp of truthfulness which constitutes the chief merit of this extraordinarily interesting book. A further instalment of Marie Bashkirtseff literature was published in the shape of letters between her and Guy de Maupassant, with whom she started a correspondence under a feigned name and without revealing her identity.

See Mathilde Blind, A Study of Marie Bashkirtseff (T. Fisher Unwin, 1892); The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff: an Exposure and a Defence, by “S.” (showing that there is throughout a mistake of four years in the date of the diary); Black and White, 6th Feb. and 11th April 1891, pp. 17, 304; The Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff, translated, with an Introduction, by Mathilde Blind (2 vols., London, 1890); The Letters of Marie Bashkirtseff (1 vol.).  (B. K.)