Women in Art: Suzanne de Court

In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ll be posting an artwork a day by a woman artist.

SLP1234-1

Suzanne de Court, The Triumph of Ceres, late 16th–early 17th century. Painted enamel, partly gilt and partly silvered, on copper. The Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975.1.1234

This is a painted enamel ewer from the workshop of Suzanne de Court. It is now in the Lehman collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Suzanne de Court (also known as Suzanne Court) was active in Limoges in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Her birthdate is unknown. Scholars believe she may have been the daughter of the enameler Jean Court (or Jean de Court). She signed her enamels variously Suzanne Court, Suzanne de Court, and S.C.

Besides Suzanne de Court, we know of no other female enamel artists active in Limoges in this period. (There may have been others, but Court was the only one who signed her work with her own name.) Her work is characterized by the use of vivid color, punctuated by rich gold and silver.

The Met’s entry for this object notes: “The Lehman ewer, decorated with a brilliant combination of translucent enamel and grisaille, is divided into two narrative zones by a band of black arabesques on a white ground. The top zone illustrates the triumphal procession of Ceres in a landscape of turquoise green foliage; this scene is based on an earlier engraving. The bottom zone, drawn from a woodcut illustration, is taken from the story of Moses and the Daughters of Jethro as told in Exodus: “…Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.” Having driven away the shepherds, Moses is shown at the well, standing with the daughters of Jethro surrounded by their flock.”

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