Elisabeth Ronget's artistic career is illustrative of the challenges faced by many artists working at the beginning of the 20th century. Ronget was schooled in traditional styles but quickly became engaged with the new approach modernists were taking. What resulted for Ronget was a body of work that combines the skill of traditional training with the new structural approach of cubism. 

Ronget developed a passion for drawing at an early age. Her parents recognized her interest and sent her to the School of Fine Arts in Vienna. Her traditional schooling involved academic drawing classes and copying master paintings in museums.

At the turn of the century Viennese society was exploring the ideas of the avant-garde. Secessionist movements began there as artists rebelled against traditional restrictions on art's definition. Young artists were eager to challenge accepted canons and redefine art's relationship to the world. It soon became apparent to Ronget that what was occurring at a small level in Vienna was taking place on a grander scale in Paris, London and Berlin. Having perfected her classical drawing technique, Ronget moved to Berlin in 1926 and became associated with avant-garde artists in the November Group.

In Berlin, Ronget was exposed to cubism and the work of Der Blaue Rieter who were working in a colorful decorative style similar to the Fauves. With this exposure Ronget understood that the modernists were proposing an entirely new way of making and considering art. She commented: It is necessary to forget everything one's learned up until now, not only forget but do it as ifone had never seen a painting, as if the laws of perspective don't exist and the elementary principles of construction have never been invented. At base, it's very simple, it is necessary to completely start over.

Ronget began exhibiting her cubist pieces in restaurants and bookstores, and purchases encouraged her to continue. By 1930 the political situation in Germany had become dangerous and in 1931 Ronget moved to Paris. She enrolled in the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and made a living decorating restaurants as well as designing fabrics and wallpaper for French fashion houses.

In Paris she met and married Paul Ronget, a doctor, who introduced her to painter Andre Lhote. In Lhote's studio Ronget discovered color and became familiar with the revolutionary work of Paul Cezanne. Under the influence of Lhote and other French cubists, Ronget's forms simplified and her palette changed to incorporate earth tones of ochres, browns, mauves and blues. Lady with Fan and Lady with Guitar were done during this time and are examples of the academic cubism that Ronget was exposed to-forms are flattened and simplified, backgrounds are reduced to fields of geometric pattern. In both images Ronget has gone back into the painting and scratched away areas-adding the interest of pattern to Lady with Guitar and suggesting texture and depth in Lady with Fan. Ronget's choice of subject matter was in keeping with other cubists and included card players, musical instruments, and people gathered at a bar.

In 1934 Ronget began exhibiting at the Salon d'Automne with Andre Lhote. A series of one person exhibitions followed and resulted in sales to collectors throughout Europe. In 1941, after the invasion of France, Ronget and her husband moved to Provence. Although she never returned to Paris she continued to participate in exhibitions. In 1946 she showed at the Salon des Independents; in 1953 at the Salon des Realites Nouvelles; in 1956 at the Salon des Surindependants and in 1957 at the Salon des Femmes Peintres. She had other exhibitions in Nice and Cannes. Ronget died at the age of 66 in Provence.


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Elisabeth Ronget (1896 - 1962) Poland

ELISABETH RONGET

Lady with Fan

c. 1930’s, oil on canvas, 20” x 16”

ELISABETH RONGET

Lady with Guitar

c. 1930’s, oil on canvas, 22” x 19”