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Life and career 
Born Maria Konstantinovna Bashkirtseva in Gavrontsi near Poltava, to a wealthy noble family, she grew up abroad, traveling with her mother across most of Europe. Educated privately, she studied painting in France at the Académie Julian, one of the few establishments that accepted female students. The Académie attracted young women from all over Europe and the United States. One fellow student was Louise Breslau, whom Bashkirtseff viewed as her only rival. Bashkirtseff would go on to produce a remarkable body of work in her short lifetime, the most famous being the portrait of Paris slum children titled The Meeting (1884; Musée d'Orsay, Paris) and In the Studio, (shown here) a portrait of her fellow artists at work. Unfortunately, a large number of Bashkirtseff's works were destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.
From the age of 13, Bashkirtseff began keeping a journal, and it is for this that she is most famous. Her personal account of the struggles of women artists is documented in her published journals, which are a revealing story of the bourgeoisie. Titled I Am the Most Interesting Book of All, her popular diary is still in print today. The diary was cited by an American contemporary, Mary MacLane, whose own shockingly confessional diary drew inspiration from Bashkirtseff's. Her letters, consisting of her correspondence with the writer Guy de Maupassant, were published in 1891.
As a painter, she took her cue from Jules Bastien-Lepage's admiration for the true forms of reality, an inspiration found in nature.
- "I say nothing of the fields because Bastien-Lepage reigns over them as a sovereign; but the streets, however, have not still had their... Bastien".
She formed a friendship with Bastien-Lepage, and both artists succumbed to chronic illness prematurely in the same year, 1884.
Dying of tuberculosis at the age of 25, Bashkirtseff lived just long enough to become an intellectual powerhouse in Paris in the 1880s. A feminist, in 1881, using the nom de plume "Pauline Orrel," she wrote several articles for Hubertine Auclert's feminist newspaper, La Citoyenne. One of her famous quotes is: Let us love dogs, let us love only dogs! Men and cats are unworthy creatures.
Discovery of the original diary 
Until recently the accepted date of Bashkirtseff's birth was November 11 [Nov. 23, New Style], 1860. However, after the discovery of the original manuscript of Bashkirtseff‘s diary in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, it was found that her diary had been abridged and censored by her family. Her date of birth (1858 not 1860) was also falsified by her mother. The unabridged edition of the diary, based on the original manuscript, was published in France in 16 volumes, and excerpts (years 1873–76) translated into English (see Reference).
I was born the 11th (elsewhere given as the 12th) of November, 1859. Actually born November 12, 1858, by the Russian calendar; November 24, 1858, by the Gregorian calendar, which is twelve days ahead of the Russian. The family celebrated her birthday each year on the day they claimed she would have been born if she had been a full-term baby— January 12 by the Russian calendar, January 24 by the western calendar. She learns later—in Book 83, December 29, 1878—from her father (but does not apparently accept his statement, as she ignores it here in her preface) that she was a full-term baby, suggesting that she was conceived before her parents had married and that all the mystification about her date of birth was intended to cover up that embarrassment.] It's horrifying just to write it, but I console myself by thinking that I certainly will not have any age when you read me.
—I Am the Most Interesting Book of All: The Diary of Marie Bashkirtseff , Author's preface with comment of translator, p. 1
- http://www.bashkirtseff.com.ar/marie_bashkirtseff_1_english_int.htm Homage website to Marie Bashkirtseff, a fellow invalid painter inspired by acquaintanceship with her contemporary Bastien-Lepage
Further reading 
- Bashkirtseff, Marie. Mon journal. Texte intégral., volumes I-XVI (complete text of the journal transcribed by Ginette Apostolescu). Paris: Montesson (5 rue Jean-Claude-Bézanier, 78360 ). Cercle des amis de Marie Bashkirtseff, 2005. ISBN 2-9518398-5-5. (French)
- "I Am the Most Interesting Book of All: The Diary of Marie Bashkirtseff" (English translation by Phyllis Howard Kernberger, Katherine Kernberger) ISBN 0-8118-0224-8, ISBN 978-0-8118-0224-6, Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 1, 1997)
- Cronin, Vincent. Four Women in Pursuit of an Ideal. London: Collins, 1965; also published as The Romantic Way. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.
- Hubbard, Tom, Marie B.: A Biographical Novel, Kirkcaldy: Ravenscraig Press, 2008
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bashkirtseff, Maria Constantinova". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Marie Bashkirtseff|
- Biographical notice and Gallery with all of her paintings.
- Works by Marie Bashkirtseff at Project Gutenberg