20th CenturyDrawingFine ArtPortraitsSwiss

Drawing by Aimée Rapin – 1899 Portrait of Girl in Traditional Dress

Adeline Aimée Rapin, was born in Payerne on December 14, 1868 and died in Geneva May 5, 1956.

Born without arms, Rapin painted with her feet.  She studied with  Barthélemy Menn, the Geneva master who also instructed Hodler and many other great Geneva painters of the period.

Rapin created some 4000 works, including portraits of some of the great personalities of her time.  Born a little over a decade before Helen Keller, Rapin was ahead of her time in demonstrating how a full and creative life of artistic accomplishment can be led by people living with seemingly insurmountable disabilities.  She became a famous figure of the period, traveling extensively, meeting Sarah Bernhard in Paris.  She was also active in promoting the rights, and artist achievements of women.  Her achievement was an inspiration to the Armenian composer Stephane Elmas who had lost his hearing after falling ill with typhoid fever.  The two became life partners, living together on Geneva’s quai Gustave-Ador, and are buried together in the city’s Cimetiere des Rois.

Rapin received portrait commissions from many famous figures of her time, beginning with her first commission from Count Szymanovski, a descendent of the kings of Poland.

Her works can be found in Geneva’s Museum of Art and History.

Red chalk on paper – Signed and dated «Fev.99» lower left

Dimensions (without frame): 37 x 21 cm