Marie Bashkirtseff

On this date in 1858, artist Marie Bashkirtseff was born in what is now Ukraine to a wealthy noble family. She grew up in France and Italy and studied painting in Paris. Although a number of her paintings were destroyed by the Nazis during World War II, she is still well-known for two canvasses: “The Meeting,” depicting Parisian slum children, and “In the Studio,” depicting fellow artists at work.

From the age of 13, she kept a journal that included her correspondence with writer Guy de Maupassant. The first volume of her diary was published in 1890 and is titled I Am the Most Interesting Book of All. She wrote several articles for Hubertine Auclert’s feminist newspaper La Citoyenne in 1881 under the nom de plume “Pauline Orrel.” One of her most-quoted sayings: “Let us love dogs, let us love only dogs! Men and cats are unworthy creatures.”

Her later journal entries, first published posthumously in the journal Revue des Revues in 1900, reveal her skepticism. Her religious beliefs were complicated and shifted during her short life. In 1881 she wrote about “having been a Deist, with days of absolute atheism,” while adding she was “praying to Christ and the Virgin” and commenting that established religion had very little to do with Christ’s teaching.

She died of tuberculosis at age 25 in Paris. (D. 1884)

PHOTO: Bashkirtseff at age 20.

Freedom From Religion Foundation