09 November 2010



a fascinating artist, it is no surprise LEONOR FINI found her interiors another fantastical canvas for painting pictures, tales and perches. Today, her work found in many important collections of modern art. Upon her death The London Times obituary spoke of her physical beauty, her erotic art, and her legions of lovers, whose names "read like a roll call of the literary and artistic talents of that brilliant age." A largely self taught Surrealist-though she never officially joined their movement- Fini was befriended and admired by them. Often living with two men- a lover and a friend-or both-she preferred the creative arrangement of a ménage à trois. 'Marriage never appealed to me,' she explained. 'I have never lived with just one person. Since I was 18 I have preferred to be in a sort of community - a big house with my atelier and cats and friends, and with one man who was rather a lover and another who was rather a friend. And it has always worked.'  

self portrait

Many of her paintings hang in the renovated attic space where the muse visited Lenora Fini. The 2000 square foot space in Paris was Laboratory for the artist. A Baroque allegory of Justice carved in wood  stands alongside the Fini canvases. A 17th century Italian table presides over the Fini collection and just below this photograph-FINI perched on the same table with her cats. The artist found cats-her greatest muses-other than self- explored the feline and its relationship to women. 

'At the top of an old staircase, a red door opened,'wrote a neighbour, who was 'confronted with ships' figureheads, old mirrors, velvet curtains, an alcove painted purple, some violet-coloured armchairs, glass hands, a large bronze foot, birds' skeletons, dolls' wigs, a large baroque pair of scales, oriental clothes and carpets, turn-of-the-century underclothes, theatre costumes, sequinned stockings…' (Daily Telegraph UK)

her Muses & her Work

a Fini set design for Les Demoiselles de la nuit

a femme fatatale, a feminist- in her unique way, Fini's work mostly depicted women-looking very much like herself and cats. Here Surrealistic eroticism was championed by  Christian Dior , Max Ernst-one time lover, Cartier-Bresson, Jean Cocteau and Georges Batailles. Androgyny, Menace and Eroticism always created a tension in her work that both shocked and titillated the public. Fini painted the first erotic male nude ever by a woman in 1942.


 'The wardrobe was flung open: silks and satins, masks and boots, girdles and stage-jewelled coronets were spilled knee-high about the room. We tried on this and that, criticized or admired one another until everyone was dressed within the rules, which were that we be nude only from chest to thigh.'  Julien Levy, Fini's NY art dealer

a small attic room with fabric covered walls & 
Fini designed costume drawings hang on low cupboards  &  costume designs below


The Leopard

a collection of Neapolitan ex-votos hand on a screen

patterns in Fini's paintings appear on the floors of the apartment

Areas of the studio were covered in an English linoleum with Persian patterns in greens, blues and reds. (see below) & these designs obviously found their way into her paintings.

another Fini self portrait

a corner of Fini's studio

A corner of the studio is eked out at a sitting room with an eclectic mix of chairs and objects. A folding chair of leather and wood (Fini seated in the chair above), a 17th century Dutch chair- (seen in the two photographs below)  and a rocking chair circa 1900. The walls are covered in a mole- coloured velvet-serving as a solemn backdrop for  one of her most sinister paintings. Objects litter the space: an Egyptian head, a Greek Sphinx, pre Columbian jewels, geodes and a collection of ex-votos.

the Artist-the Muse

According to Fini's obituary in The Guardian: 'At one gallery opening she wore a beautiful Siberian wolf-fur coat, which she had exchanged for a painting. When someone suggested it was rather warm for such clothing, she opened her coat to reveal that she was naked.'

 'I have always loved, and lived, my own theatre,' FINI

links are provided in the reading of this post where quotes are used other resources, images provided from the list below.-
for further reading of FINI I recommend Sphinx: The Life and Art of Leonor Fini- by Peter Webb    
the Telegraph here
the Spaightwood Galleries here
& Les Chats here



  1. Wonderful, wondeful post! I had heard the name before and seen the paintings but never really explored what a fascinating woman this is.

  2. Fantastic post...she is one of my favorites.

  3. The sexiest cat lady I have ever seen! Thank you for acquainting me with the siren.

  4. A wonderful post! I will come back to look at this again and again. I love the costume drawings, the patterns from the floors, the studio images, and on + on.

  5. Thank you for introducing me to Fini - she's most intriguing! ... Mark

  6. What a fascinating and inspiring post!

  7. Amazing woman and amazing artist. I have a splendid book with her works, signed for me.

  8. OMG your blog is fabulous! I stumbled upon it while googling images of Lady Diana Manners, whose autobio I am currently reading. Loved your post about her, and this on Fini as well. (I am somewhat of a surrealist myself, when not being lazy and doing run-of-the-web altered art.) I see other names of interest here--Oscar Wilde, Sitwell, Castaing, Cornell, La Divina, Morrell, Mitford...if I search further maybe I will find Fornasetti, Vita Sackville-West, Nancy Lancaster, Nureyev, Renzo Mongiardino? I would be delighted to have you visit my blog, Collagitation.blogspot.com. Thanks, I'll be back!

  9. Hmm. I wonder if the resonating notes of Balthus are coming from perhaps an alliance at one time, they do compare in many ways.

  10. I've always loved Fini's art and life. I especially remember reading how she would go between her winter and summer homes accompanied by all of her cats.

  11. Fini still has a cult following. It is no wonder-she was a modern woman in every sense of the word. I still am a bit nervous in the presence of so many cats!

    Diane- thank you and welcome, I will certainly chck Collagitation out. pgt

  12. Flo, true! many things tied in, I don't know if their paths crossed. Balthus painting women in their vulnerable tenderness, While fini's women in full power. pgt

  13. I was familiar with some of Fini's paintings, but had no idea she was such a fascinating figure. The pictures of her in her home are just marvelous. Wonderful post!

  14. Gaye, I was not aware of Fini & her work. I am amazed by her creativity. I adore her image with her cats and the self portraits. If I could have a studio like hers!

    Art by Karena

  15. What a stunning and fascinating woman- my kind of person - loves art, loves cats. I am typing this with one cat on my lap and one on my shoulder by the way !!!!!

  16. HHR, Karena- another powerful woman, glad you like the post. I find her "place" interesting in that there is a spontaneity to it we see in rooms today in World of Interiors. That little sitting area is timeless. It is obvious she collected what she was drawn to rather than a particular period-which I find restraining personally.
    -each to his own.

  17. MCL- so glad you found a kindred spirit here in Leonor Fini. Cats are a great comfort-I only have the one, but after I lost Mady-the cat prior to today's incarnation - I felt the house was dead, or sleeping. the presence of a cat will always be essential for me. they are the sentinels of the house. pgt

  18. Dear Gaye, amazing post! Thank you for introducing me to yet another wonderful human being xx

  19. What an amazing post! I loved your text and the video at the end of Fini herself was just the best surprise ever! Thank you!

  20. We love Fini. First time we saw something done by here was when we bought a lithography of her called La Belle.

    You can look at it on my wife's blogg.




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