Friday, 23 December 2016

Marie Baudet (1864 – 1917) – French artist, writer, feminist and nurse

My very grateful thanks to Phil Dawes whose tireless research in response to my cry for help has produced much of the following information about Marie.

Marie was born Marie Ludivine Antoinette Dupuit in 1864 in Tagnon, Ardennes, France, which is about 28 kilometers from Rheims.  Her brother was Léon Dupuit and her great-nephew, Pierre Boucher – Léon’s grandson - was a Mayor of Tagnon.

In 1889, Marie married Victor Baudet, an accountant.

Marie became a nurse and worked in the French Hospital for Fishermen (Société Hôpitaux Français d’Islande) in Iceland that was set up in 1903 and in operation until 1912.   Marie was an ardent feminist and apart from French she also spoke Breton, Icelandic, Danish and English.  Some of Marie’s paintings were exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1907 and in 1913.   She also wrote a book about the beggars and tramps she loved to sketch. 

Marie undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and travelled to Jerusalem.  She was instrumental in obtaining a sacred relic - a piece of the cross upon which Jesus was crucified - for keeping in the church in Tagnon.   Marie also organised a roadside ‘Calvary’ for her home town. These Calvaries are a traditional, commemorative religious area outside many towns and villages in France.  The Calvary on the outskirts of Tagnon was a large replica cross and was officially unveiled on 1st June 1914 when a special ceremony was held to dedicate the cross.  Hundreds of people attended the ceremony, with special trains bringing people from Rheims for the occasion. Marie painted the murals of the grotto at the base of the cross.

During the First World War, Marie worked at the hospital set up in October 1914 in the Palais de Compiègne to treat victims of the outbreak of Typhoid Fever. 

Marie may have been based at the St. Paul Hospital in Rheims.  She was killed during a bombing raid in the Place de la République in Rheims while helping wounded soldiers into an ambulance on 6th April 1917.

The Salon de Paris was an art exhibition started in 1903 by Matisse and other artists to counterbalance the rather conservative Salon de Paris which was founded in 1667 and organised by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
 
Photo:  French nurses descending from a horse-drawn ambulance in 1914.

Sources:  Bénézit 1976, I, p. 515. Dictionnaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs.


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