Amalia Küssner Coudert

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Amalia Küssner Coudert
Amalia-Kussner.jpg
Born Amalia Küssner
(1863-03-26)March 26, 1863
Greencastle, Indiana
Died May 1932
Montreaux, Switzerland
Nationality  United States
Education Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Academy
Known for Portrait miniature painting
Patron(s) Minnie Paget

Amalia Küssner Coudert (March 26, 1863 – May 1932) was an American miniaturist known for her portraits of prominent figures of the late 19th century including Caroline Astor,[1] King Edward VII, Czar Nicholas II of Russia and Cecil Rhodes.[2]

Early life[edit]

Coudert was born on March 26, 1863, in Greencastle, Indiana, to Lorenz and Emilie (Weinhardt) Küssner. On February 24, 1864, the family, including Amalia's siblings Albert and Louisa, moved to Terre Haute, Indiana. Her father, a German immigrant, ran a musical instrument repair shop called Küssner's Palace of Music at 213 Ohio Street. Lorenz gave his daughter a miniature portrait on ivory when Coudert was 12 years old, and she soon began painting her own miniatures.[3] Coudert enjoyed etching the local scenery and soon began etching on ivory, often from the discarded piano keys of damaged pianos.[1]

Coudert graduated from Terre Haute High School in 1881. She then studied with artist Sister Maurice Schnell at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Academy. From 1883 to 1885 Coudert studied in New York, but in 1885 she returned to Terre Haute, where she established a studio and studied under tutor Helen Minshall.[1]

Professional life[edit]

Miniature portrait on ivory
Matilda Thora Wainwright Scott Strong, c. 1894, is representative of Coudert's watercolor miniatures on ivory.

Coudert's typical miniature portraits were painted on small ivory discs 2-3 inches in diameter. In all, she completed more than 200 of these miniatures.[4]

Her earliest portraits were during her time in Terre Haute, where she painted likenesses of local families including the Fairbanks, Minshalls, Bakers and Reynolds.[1]

New York City[edit]

By 1892 Coudert had moved to New York City with the recommendation of school friend and successful actress Alice Fischer. She maintained a studio in the Windsor Hotel and painted portraits of Manhattan's elite, including Caroline Astor, at approximately US $1,000 per portrait.[1] During these period a Harper's Bazaar writer profiled her luxuriously decorated studio[4] and described Coudert as a 22-year-old child prodigy, even though she was 31 years old at the time.[1] (Coudert did nothing to correct this error, in fact encouraging those who saw her as "girl artist." For years, she continued to claim her age was a full decade younger than was true.)[3]

Paintings of royalty[edit]

Coudert traveled to Europe in the late 1890s under the patronage of socialite Minnie Paget. She was welcomed by high society there[5] and soon became known for her portraits of royalty, including King Edward VII, Czar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife Alexandra.[2] At her height, Coudert's works earned her as much as US $4,000 per portrait.[4]

Marriage[edit]

On July 4, 1900, she married Charles duPont Coudert, a wealthy international lawyer, in a surprise ceremony attended only by their mothers.[1][6] The New York Times society page reported that this "hasty wedding ... made quite a little stir."[7] The couple traveled throughout Europe and maintained a mansion in New York.[3]

Though a New York Times article in 1901 claimed that Coudert was "meeting with great success" in London,[5] for the most part her career dwindled after her marriage.[4] By 1914 Coudert was retired and was living with her husband in Windlesham Hall, a Tudor castle the couple had purchased in Surrey, England.[3]

The couple owned at least one piece of art; in 1911 Coudert lent a Pierre Puvis de Chavannes painting titled "Child Gathering Apples" to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[8]

Legacy[edit]

Coudert's miniatures are now in the collections of several museums, including the Swope Art Museum[9] and the Cincinnati Art Museum.[10]

In addition to her paintings, Coudert is remembered for a 1906 article she wrote for The Century Magazine about her experience painting Nicholas II and Alexandra of Russia in March 1899. In significant detail, Coudert describes the royal lodgings, her interactions with the royal family and staff, and the process of painting their portraits, giving a rare glimpse into the personal lives of the family.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g McCormick, Mike (1997). "Amalia Kussner Coudert". Wabash Valley Profiles. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Leonard, John W (1908). Who's Who in New York City and State. New York City: Hamersly & Co. p. 326. 
  3. ^ a b c d McCormick, Mike (23 March 1997). "Artist's talent was miniatures". Tribune Star. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Finnell, Shari. "Skirting The Issue". Indianapolis Woman. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Amalia Kussner Lionized in London". The New York Times. 28 July 1901. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Dupont Couderts Sail". The New York Times. 5 July 1900. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Some Happenings in Good Society". The New York Times. 8 July 1900. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  8. ^ Burroughs, Bryson (1914). Catalogue of Paintings. Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 238. 
  9. ^ Terre Haute Artists in the Swope Collection (Pamphlet). Terre Haute, Indiana: Swope Art Museum. 
  10. ^ "New Acquisitions". 2009 Report to the Community: 30. 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Coudert, Amalia Kussner (1906). "The Human Side of the Tsar". Century Magazine. LXXII. Retrieved 10 March 2011.