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Portrait of Juana Romani
by Ferdinand Roybet (c.1890).
|Born||30 April 1867
At the age of ten, she went Paris with her mother and her stepfather, Temistocle Romani. They settled in the Latin Quarter and she was put to work as a model at several art schools. It was not long, however, before Filippo Colarossi (1841-1906), founder of the Académie Colarossi, took a special interest in her; inviting her to work and study at his school.
In 1882, she posed for "Diana the Huntress", a well-known sculpture by Alexandre Falguière. She also posed for Carolus-Duran, Ferdinand Roybet, who gave her lessons, and Jean-Jacques Henner, with whom she had a brief affair. At the age of nineteen "Il Romani", as she was called, decided to pursue her own career in art. That same year, she changed her first name to "Juana", the Spanish equivalent of her middle name, "Giovanna".
She began to exhibit her works in 1888 at the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français and exhibited with them regularly until 1904. She was especially valued as a female portrait painter. She painted many women from notable families, often depicting them as mythological or symbolic figures. One of her portraits was awarded a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle (1889). In 1901, she donated 5,000 lire to the art school in her home town. Four years later, it was officially renamed the "Scuola d'Arte Juana Romani".
Her work was also well received by the critics. In 1896, Louis Gonse (1846-1921) of Le Monde Moderne declared that she was more skillful than her mentor, Roybet. She usually painted directly on the canvas, without preliminary sketching, and sold many works before they were finished.
In her later years, she became mentally unsound and was confined to a psychiatric hospital. She died there, forgotten, around 1924. Her remaining works were auctioned off at the Hôtel Drouot. Many of her paintings may be seen at the Musée d'Orsay.
- Cristina Contilli, Juana Romani (1867-1924) Modella, pittrice e scultrice della Belle Epoque, Lulu, 2016 ISBN 978-13-26870-67-6
- Gabriela Romani, Juana Romani, Blurb, 2016 ISBN 978-13-67852-38-9
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