Alice Pike Barney's
1857 AD - 1931 AD
Alice Pike Barney (born Alice Pike, January 14, 1857 – 1931) was an American painter. She was active in Washington, D.C. and worked to make Washington into a center of the arts.
Her two daughters were the writer and salon hostess Natalie Clifford Barney and the Bahá'í writer Laura Clifford Barney
In 1887 she travelled to Paris to be nearer her two daughters while they attended Les Ruches, a French boarding school founded by the feminist educator Marie Souvestre. While there, she studied painting with Carolus-Duran. She returned to Paris in 1896 – bringing her daughter Laura to a French hospital for treatment of leg pain from a childhood injury – and resumed her study with Carolus-Duran as well as taking lessons from the Spanish painter Claudio Castelucho. When James Abbott McNeill Whistler opened an academie, she was one of the first students. Whistler soon lost interest in teaching art and the school shut down, but he was a formative influence.
In 1899 she began a salon at her rented home on the Avenue Victor Hugo; regular guests included the Symbolist painters Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, John White Alexander, and Edmond Aman-Jean, and her art began to show a Symbolist influence
When Natalie wrote a chapbook of French poetry, Quelques Portraits-Sonnets de Femmes (Some Portrait-Sonnets of Women), Barney was pleased to provide illustrations. She did not understand the implications of the book's love poems addressed to women and had no idea that three of the four women who modeled for her were her daughter's lovers. Albert, alerted to the book's theme by a newspaper review headlined "Sappho Sings in Washington", rushed to Paris, where he bought and destroyed the publisher's remaining stock and printing plates and insisted that Barney and Natalie return with him to the family's summer home in Bar Harbor, Maine. His temper only worsened when friends forwarded him clippings from the Washington Mirror
Washington, about to publish its first Social Register, was becoming more socially stratified, and Barney's background as the daughter of a whiskey distiller and granddaughter of a Jewish immigrant had made her the subject of vague insinuations in the society pages. The gossip would have no lasting effect on the Barneys' social standing, but Albert considered it a disaster. His drinking increased, as did his blood pressure, and two months later he had a heart attack. His health continued to deteriorate, and he died in 1902.
Barney had solo shows at major galleries including the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In later years, she invented and patented mechanical devices, wrote and performed in several plays and an opera, and worked to promote the arts in Washington, D.C. Many of her paintings are now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
She converted to the Bahá'í Faith around 1900