Marie-Mela Muter

(1876 - 1967)

Mela Muter grew up in a well-to-do family in Warsaw. In 1901, after a year of classes at J.Kotarbinski ‘s women’ s drawing school, she arrived in Paris with her husband Michal Muttermilch, a socialist journalist, and enrolled at the Académie Colarossi and at the Académie de la Musique.

Full Artist Bio

Mela Muter grew up in a well-to-do family in Warsaw. In 1901, after a year of classes at J.Kotarbinski ‘s women’ s drawing school, she arrived in Paris with her husband Michal Muttermilch, a socialist journalist, and enrolled at the Académie Colarossi and at the Académie de la Musique.

In 1902 she began to present her works at the annual Parisian Salons; she also sent works to be exhibited at a number of domestic group exhibitions (held in Krakow, Lvov, and Warsaw).

A series of solo exhibitions began with a presentation at Barcelona’s Galeria José Dalmau in 1912, and she became a member of the Parisian Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts the same year. She painted a great deal and presented her work often in Paris, and less regularly in Munich and Pittsburgh. She had important solo exhibitions at the Chéron Gallery (1918) and Druet Gallery (1926 and 1928) in Paris, and in Poland at the Towarzystwo Zachęty Sztuk Pieknych / Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts (1923).

She exhibited regularly at the Salon d’Automne and at the Salon des Tuileries and Salon des Femmes Modernes in the 1930s.

Among the artists Muter befriended in France were the painter René-Xavier Prinet, the Australian painter Bessie Davidson (co-founder of the Salon des Tuileries), the sculptor Philippe Besnard and Kees van Dongen.

Although Muter received French citizenship in 1927, she always insisted that she considered herself Polish, and remains significant there as the first Jewish woman in Poland to become a professional artist. Her work is regarded as being a part of the École de Paris, in its broadest sense. She was an outsider all her life, uninfluenced by fashions or trends. Her portraits, landscapes and still life reveal the influence of major artistic currents of the turn and beginning of the century: the Synthetism of École de Pont-Aven, van Gogh’s Expressionism, and French Fauvism and Cubism. Yet her work was entirely individual, both in its subject matter and in the formal means which she employed.