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Paul-Cesar Helleu - Le Visage Encadré, Madame Helleu

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Original drypoint etching, circa 1895, in colours, signed by the artist in pencil, lower left.

Size: 414 by 570mm 16¼ by 22½in

Edition: These etchings were normally not made in set edition numbers but were printed off, “on demand” , by the artist. Today one tries a large number of different types but not large numbers of each. Probably they were made in editions of 100 or less.

Reference: Montesque XLII

Note: This portrait of the artists wife is considered one of his most attractive works. It was made both in black & white and, as in our example, in colours. She was an attractive red-head who married her m much older husband. Theirs was a very happy marriage.

Helleu is best known for his portraits of society ladies made during the Edwardian period during the “age of elegance” or “Belle Epoch”. In 1886, Helleu befriended Robert de Montesquiuo, the poet and aesthete. Montesquiou’s cousin, the Countess Greffukhe, enabled Helleu to expand his career as a portrait artist to elegant women in the highest ranks of Paris society and these portraits provide the basis for his modern reputation. His subjects included the Duchess of Marlborough, The Marchessa Casati, Belle da Costa Green, Louise Cheruit and Helena Rubinstein. Many of his subjects are not identifiable today. They all, however, share feminine elegance and affluence from a by-gone gilded age.