Artist Kate Augusta Carl is best known for her portrait of Tzu Hsi, the last Empress Dowager of China, painted for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Carl was born in New Orleans in 1854 and came to Memphis with her widowed mother shortly after the Civil War. In 1878 she took up the study of art in Paris under Charles Muller and specialized in portraiture. After two years, she returned to Memphis, finished her studies at the State Female Academy, and opened her own studio, where she conducted art lessons. In 1884 she returned to Paris, where she attended the Academie Julian. A student of William Adolphe Bouguereau, Tony Robert-Fleury, and later Hector Le Roux, she continued to paint portraits and genre scenes which were accepted in the Paris salons from 1886 to 1889 and 1895 to 1899. She also participated in the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. In 1903 Carl spent ten months in Beijing painting the Empress Dowager's portrait. The honor of this commission was obtained through the diplomatic contacts of her brother, China's commissioner of customs. One of the few foreigners allowed to live at the Imperial Palace, she published a book of her experience, With the Empress Dowager of China, in 1905. Although Carl lived in China until 1930, she was one of the original trustees of Memphis Brooks Museum of Art at its founding in 1916 and was a member of its board and acceptance jury for many years. After returning to the United States, she maintained a studio on Washington Square in New York, where she died in 1938.
Carl, Kate AugustaRandal Rust2018-03-01T20:05:25+00:00