Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Kuehne Beveridge (American sculptor)

Not a decorative arts post but I love this artist and I am really excited to share her story! I wrote this biography while I was volunteering for the Queer Eye Group, as a group we looked at her work exhibited at Leeds Art Gallery. This biography comes from several sources, if you have more information on her please let me know! (More to follow on The Veiled Venus) 

Kuehne Beveridge was born in 1877 in Springfield, Illinois, USA, from a wealthy American family. Her father was from a respected Republican family and her mother Ella von Wrede (1860-1904) was also an artist. She had a sister, Ray Beveridge, who was a nurse during First World War.

In 1893, she married Charles Coghlan (1842-1899), a French-born British actor who had some success on Broadway. At the time of his wedding with Kuehne, he was supposed to be Louisa Elizabeth Thorn's husband and father of her daughter, Gertrude. Charles claimed that they never got married and that he only adopted her daughter. He finally married Kuehne but in 1894 he divorced her to go back with Louisa.

Then, she moved to New York to be a student of the American sculptor William Rudolph O'Donovan (1844-1900) where she started her education as a sculptor. A few years later, she moved to Paris to study with Auguste Rodin. In 1900, while living in Paris she exhibited two sculptures at the American section of the Universal Exhibition of Paris, a bust of William A. Chandler and The Veiled Venus (with her mother, Ella von Wrede) which is now at Leeds Art Gallery. For The Veiled Venus she received an "honourable mention" at the Universal Exhibition.  At the time, Ella von Wrede had moved to Cologne, to marry the Baron von Wrede.

The Veiled Venus, Kuehne Beveridge and Ella von Wrede, 1900. 

At the time of her mother's death in 1904, Kuehne was married to William B. Brandon and had moved to Johannesburg, South Africa.

In 1910, she was working in Berlin and exhibited her artwork The Vampire in Leipzig. This sculpture was described as the boldest of her career in which she depicted a man and a woman (could not find a picture of the artwork). Kuehne wrote the entry for the catalogue, here is an extract:

"My group is not meant to be symbolical, unless it symbolizes love, showing that man takes all always; that woman gives everything. I have tried to portray, not idealized being beautified by art, but two humans, a man and a woman. I have tried to show man's desire to hurt the things he loves.
I have essayed to show the real human vampire with man's desire for woman's love, and the woman who gives all, as if the bien ĂȘtre of hashish pervades her and she is lost in man."
(New York Times, February 13, 1910)

She also exhibited at the National Academy, in New York, at the Royal Academy, in London, and at the Salon du Champs de Mars, in Paris.

Kuehne Beveridge was a recognised artist who is now unknown and forgotten. In a future post, I will talk more about her work and her feminist approach because she was not a merely classic artist but had real social values and fights.

Kuehne Beveridge, photo by Bain News Service (1898)  

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