Photos of the Amazing Artist Romaine Brooks

Romaine Brooks, born Beatrice Romaine Goddard (1874 – 1970), was an American painter specialized in portraiture who used a subdued palette dominated by the color gray.

She is best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress, including her self-portrait of 1923, which is her most widely reproduced work. Her conservative style led many art critics to dismiss her, and by the 1960s her work was largely forgotten. The revival of figurative painting since the 1980s, and new interest in the exploration of gender and sexuality through art have led to a reassessment of her work. She is now seen as a precursor of present-day artists whose works depict cross-dressing and transgender themes.

In 1902 Brooks had inheritated a huge family fortune, which granted her independence. She studied in Rome, meeting an avant-garde group of artists, writers, and intellectuals with whom she associated in Capri, Paris, and the French Riviera. Her subjects ranged from anonymous models to titled aristocrats.

She often painted people close to her, such as the Italian writer and politician Gabriele D’Annunzio, the Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, and her partner of more than 50 years, the writer Natalie Barney.

Although she lived until 1970, she painted very little after 1925. She made a series of line drawings during the early 1930s, using an “unpremeditated” technique resembling automatic drawing, then virtually abandoned art, completing only a single portrait after World War II.


Romaine Brooks

Romaine Brooks by Man Ray, 1925 via

Natalie Clifford Barney and Romaine Brooks via

Romaine Brooks by Man Ray, 1925 via

Romaine Brooks by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 via