Maria Deraismes

Not many would know today who Maria Desraismes (1828-94) was, although she has her own statue and a street and a school in Paris named after her. However, when she was buried in 1894, the procession from her home to the cemetery obviously counted some 15,000 participants!

Maria was a leading feminist, but she was also defending the Republic (democracy) and secularism – the separation of state and religion (“laïcité”) -, a representative of “free thought”, active during the latter part of the 19th century. She also managed to become a freemason in 1882, for a short while - she had to resign. She was able to create a mixed lodge only some ten years later. She was however aware that progress could be made only with reasonable actions, by changing laws and attitudes, without “revolution”, which would only create strong counter-reactions. She has obviously had a great influence on women’s rights – clearly (still) needed.  

Maria came from a wealthy family, got a good education, was economically independent and could spend her life as journalist, writer and orator, defending her beliefs.

She grew up in the northwest outskirts of Paris, in Pontoise, but lived most of her active life in the 17th arrondissement in Paris and that’s where you can find the statue (Square des Epinettes), the street and the school. The statue was placed here in 1898, four years after her death. As many other statues, this one also disappeared during WWII, but was recast in a slightly different version in 1983 – the chair she was leaning on has disappeared. (The flowers indicate that she still has some “fans”.)

The original sculptor was Louis-Ernest Barras (1841-1905) with a number of statues to be found around France, the most famous one perhaps being “La Defense de Paris”, which gave the name to the business area La Défense (see previous post). Here you can also see one to be found on the tomb of the painter G.A. Guillaumet at the Montmartre Cemetery (see previous post) and one of Bernard Palissy in front of the Manufacture de Sèvres (see previous post).

Here is the school named after Maria.

… and here are some portraits of her, a painting of her mother made by Maria during her young years (!!) and a painting by Pissarro (a friend) of the family home in Pontoise, where Maria continued to spend her summers.

This is where she lived in the 17th arrondissement, first at Avenue de Clichy, later and until her death, at Rue Cardinet. 

… and finally, this is her tomb at the Montmartre Cemetery.


Maria Russell said...

G.A.Guillaumet? Sounds familiar...
Is he in one of Manet's paintings?

I so enjoyed reading about the life of this wonderful woman!
Thank you so much for telling us about her and thank you also for the fantastic photos.

A shower of diamonds to the memory of this feminist.

PeterParis said...

Maria: The painter who appears on the "Balcony" is Guillemet, not Guillaumet. But I believe that they knew each other. Must check further. :-)

martinealison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
martinealison said...

Bonjour cher Peter,

Ton article me permet de faire connaissance avec Maria Deraismes. J'avoue avec sincérité que je ne connaissais pas cette femme qui s'est battue pour l'amélioration du sort de la femme.
Une "sacrée bonne femme" qui méritait bien que tu lui fasses honneur avec ce très joli billet.
La photo de sa statue avec le bouquet est très belle.

♡ Gros bisous ♡

Thérèse said...

En effet une grande figure qui mérite d’être connue et prise en exemple.

claude said...

Très intéressante cette publication, Peter. Elle a droit à n'importe qu'elle hommage et à beaucoup de fleurs.
Merci pour cette belle leçon.

MadAboutParis said...

Merci Peter...comme d'habitude I scrolled down to check to see if you posted a photo of her grave...I was NOT disappointed! Bon Jeudi!

Harriet said...

Another great post! I am wondering about the painting by Pissaro -- where is it located?

Maria Russell said...

You're right! It's Guillemet!

Studio at the Farm said...

Another interesting article - thank you, Peter.

Vagabonde said...

Another enlightening post, Peter. She was quite a lady – I wish there was one like her right now in the US…

Trotter said...

Hi Peter!
It is always a great pleasure to come back to this blog!

I missed our meeting in Paris last February. Hope you are feeling better now. I had a stomach trouble those days and had to anticipate my departure. Strange virus seemed to be around...

Blogtroter has the second half of my post on Valencia, Spain, with some old buildings around!

Wish you a great Easter and all the best!