An artistic legacy
In Paris, Davidson established herself as an artist of significant renown, exhibiting at the various Paris Salons as well as having work acquired for the national collection. In 1931 she was awarded a Legion of Honour for her contribution during the First World War and for service to the arts. Davidson was a founding member of the Salon de Tuileries, secretary of the critical women’s art group Femmes Artistes Moderne and was one of the featured artists in the important publication Quelques Femmes Peintres (some women artists), compiled by Madeleine Bunoust, alongside artists such as Berthe Morrisot and Mary Cassat.
Women at leisure
Davidson’s depictions of women at leisure are perhaps the most intriguing and revealing of all her works. These women appear passive, not actively engaged with the viewer. Despite this we are not made to feel as though we are voyeurs but rather that we have privileged insight into the lives of these women. Her carefully curated objects allude to the richness of her own life: still lifes replete with an abundance of flowers and fruit, and sun-filled interiors with an eclectic mix of textiles and furnishings, windows and mirrors, each item evoking the essential ‘Frenchness’ of Davidson’s oeuvre.
A bold colourist
As Davidson matured as an artist she moved away from the subtle blended colour of impressionism evident in her works from the second decade of the 20th century. She adopted a bolder post-impressionist aesthetic, confidently utilising a square brushstroke to apply colour to great effect.
After mastering this painting technique Davidson began to experiment with composition, embracing a stronger modernist sensibility, coupled with unusual compositional framing. Also notable in Davidson’s work is her self-possessed and sparing application of paint – she was not afraid to allow the support and underdrawings to remain visible, and in many paintings we can see areas of raw board and compositional grid lines.
Sally Smart has been inspired by the complex, layered textures of Davidson’s domestic interiors and what it is that these interiors represent. Davidson continually found inspiration from the interiors she inhabited and the carefully selected objects with which she surrounded herself. In Interiors (Daughter architect) Smart has reimagined these interiors, alluding to key places and spaces in Davidson’s everyday life – her studio, Paris’s parks and gardens, the fabric, furnishings and flowers which form a constant presence in Davidson’s paintings. Smart invites us to look below the surface of both her and Davidson’s interiors to take a deeper, more psychological view of these spaces to unpack why these domestic sites are so significant and what the spaces and objects can tell us about ourselves and our society.