Mme. in her Salon by Paul Cesar Helleu
Alicia Guérin, future wife of Paul Cesar Helleu was his constant model and muse.
No doubt a beauty, yet there have been many artists who used their wives as models-and many more- less beautiful. When Alice was 14 Helleu was commissioned to paint her-and the pair married two years later. They were in love & Helleu had secured a beautiful model for life.
Celebrated artist in Belle Epoque Paris, with friends like aesthete Robert de Montesquiou, painter friends Jacques Emile Blanche and Degas, Countess Greffulhe, and Proust, Helleu captured Paris's beau monde during the era. Helleu became the model for artist Elstir in Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. His friend Walter Gay painted vignettes in the Helleu home, while life long friend John Singer Sargent painted Jacques and Alicia both.
The distingue Helleu in his salon 45, Rue Emile Menier, Paris 1890.
Photograph by Dornac
A Helleu drypoint portrait rests on the settee
Mme. Helleu in the Helleu Salon by Paul Helleu
Walter Gay~Chez Helleu
45, Rue Emile Menier
Walter Gay, 1902.
Walter Gay Chez Helleu, 1909.
Mme. ~ Chez Helleu
...painting the Artist's wife
Helleu & Alicia-by JSS. Helleu is sketching Alicia
Helleu became friends with when he was just 18-and Sargent-four years old was already known as a well known portraitist. After praising Helleu's work, Helleu offered it as a gift. Sargent replied"I shall gladly accept this, Helleu, but not as a gift. I sell my own pictures, and I know what they cost me by the time they are out of my hand. I should never enjoy this pastel if I hadn't paid you a fair and honest price for it." With this he paid him a thousand-franc note.
in the punt, Violet (Sargent's sister) and Alicia, by JSS
...the artist's wife in the Salon
see the escritoire in the Dornac photograph
...lounging on a chaise
...with Paulette in the Salon
Mme. Helleu appeared on the cover of Femina twice in 1906, this one of her breastfeeding baby Paulette
Hide & Seek
Madame Helleu reading to Paulette
Alicia with Paulette looking at Helleu's drawing boards
Helleu retired to family life after realizing the Belle Epoque was over, but during his day he painted everyone who was anyone- the Duchess of Marlborough,(Consuelo), Madame Casati, Helena Rubenstein, Jeanne Toussaint, Madeleine Chéruit, Gladys Deacon (later another Duchess of Marlborough), Anna de Noailles, Belle Epoque beauty Liane de Pougy, and Coco Chanel.
Helleu had suggested Chanel's signature color Beige, of the Biarritz sand. His suggestion remains. Helleu's son Jean went on to be the artistic director of Parfums Chanel- as did his grandson Jacques.
Chanel by Helleu, and Jacques Helleu of Chanel
Helleu etchings prominently displayed in the beautiful home of Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels's Manhattan apartment, from Architectural Digest, 2011.
photographs by Roger Davies, here at AD
...my own little Helleu
Links and Sources:
Daily Telegraph here
Open Library here
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Slate Magazine here