Seven Muses of Paris



  • Seven Muses of ParisShe breathes in the creativity of a man and exhales the essence of beauty.“The original muse could not have been further from an exemplar of style. Her function was not to inspire imitation, but to create new insights and new artistic forms. She was effectively invisible, a gust of divine wind that blew through the human vessel lucky enough to be graced by her attention.”
    — Author Unknown

    Kiki de Montparnasse

    Girl with a Vase, Julian MandelGirl with a Vase, Julian Mandel c.1920
    Kiki de MontparnasseKiki de Montparnasse
    The lovely Kiki de Montparnasse dancingThe lovely Kiki de Montparnasse dancing
    Kiki de MontparnasseKiki de Montparnasse
    Kiki in Man Ray's Apartment, rue de la CondamineKiki in Man Ray’s Apartment, rue de la Condamine. Man Ray c.1921
    Kiki embodied the liberation of the 1920s. She was the living breathing free-spirit sought by the most revered artists of the time. In return, she was painted and photographed hundreds of times, leaving behind the essence of an era.
    Growing up she was raised in poverty, and by fourteen she was posing nude for money. She spent most of the 20s with Man Ray as his model, but posed for many others including the famed photographer of nude females, Julian Mandel. Kiki became an artist in her own right as well. In 1927, the exhibition of her paintings at a gallery in Paris sold out, and in 1929 she published her memoir with Ernest Hemingway providing an introduction.
    She was a symbol of the bohemian lifestyle in Paris, but she lived a hard life sprinkled with poverty, alcohol and drug abuse. At her funeral in 1951, the artist Tsuguharu Foujita said, “…with Kiki, the glorious days of Montparnasse were buried forever.

  • Jeanne Hébuterne

    Portrait of Jeanne Portrait of Jeanne
    Portrait of Jeanne Portrait of Jeanne
    Jeanne Hébuterne with Hat and NecklaceJeanne Hébuterne with Hat and Necklace, Amedeo Modigliani 1917
    Portrait of Jeanne HébuternePortrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, Amedeo Modigliani 1919
    Portrait of Jeanne HébuternePortrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, Amedeo Modigliani 1918
    The girl with the chestnut hair in over twenty Modigliani paintings was his love and muse, Jeanne. She was introduced to Modigliani in 1917 by a mutual friend in Paris. They met at her art school where he came to sketch live models. Modigliani was a real Italian playboy, irresistible to the women of Paris. His charm, good looks, and sex appeal exceeded him, but it was the shy and delicate woman fifteen years his junior that captivated him, and the two fell madly in love.
    Jeanne was born into a Roman Catholic family, and her relationship with the penniless Jewish artist was ordered to end. Defiantly, she stayed with him and was disowned. Modigliani was a violent alcoholic, physically abusive, and extremely poor. With the hopes of selling his paintings to the rich tourists in the south, the couple moved to Nice, where Jeanne gave birth to her first child.
    The artist, notorious for his outrageous use of drugs and alcohol, finally succumbed to tuberculosis at age 35. His abrupt deterioration left Jeanne too stunned to send for a doctor. A neighbor who was worried about the silence coming from their apartment, found Jeanne on Modigliani’s death bed, her arms desperately wrapped around him, as he was dying. Within forty-eight hours of Modigliani’s death, in her final act of mad devotion, Jeanne walked out backwards through a fifth floor window killing herself and their unborn child. She was twenty-two.

  • Nusch Éluard

    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Man Ray c.1934
    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Dora Maar c.1932
    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Dora Maar c.1935
    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Man Ray c.1936
    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Man Ray c.1931
    Nusch ÉluardNusch Éluard, Pablo Picasso c. 1938
    Among the prolific Parisian artists of the 1930s, Nusch Éluard was the most popular girl in class. The beautiful and enigmatic woman of Paris, sat for Picasso, posed for Man Ray, married Paul Éluard, and created surrealist collages through photomontage. She came to Paris from Mulhouse, working as small-time actress, and hypnotist’s assistant. Ooh la la combien très français. She met her poet husband Paul Éluard while modeling, and married him in 1934.
    A book of Éluard’s poetry inspired by Nusch, called Facile, was published as a photogravure book, illustrated with Man Ray’s nude photographs of her. Tragically, she died of a brain hemorrhage in the streets of Paris at the age of 40. Her death was described as a “hammer-blow” to the surrealists of Paris.
    “…As the day depends on innocence
    The whole world depends on your pure eyes
    And all my blood flows under their sight.”
    — An excerpt from: The Curve of Your Eyes, 1926 – Paul Éluard

  • Renée Perle

    Renée PerleRenée Perle, Jacques Henri Lartigue c. 1930-1932
    Renée PerleRenée Perle, Jacques Henri Lartigue c. 1930-1932
    Renée PerleRenée Perle, Jacques Henri Lartigue c. 1930-1932
    Renée PerleRenée Perle, Jacques Henri Lartigue c. 1930-1932
    Renée PerleRenée Perle, Jacques Henri Lartigue c. 1930-1932
    Renée Perle with self-portraitsRenée Perle with self-portraits
    Renée Perle, a Romanian born model, met iconic French photographer and painter Jacques-Henri Lartigue in Paris in the 1920s. Her effortless style and good-looks mesmerized Lartigue, becoming his mistress and artistic muse. Keeping his camera close by, the photographer recorded his infatuation with her beauty through hundreds of snapshots of the model adored by all. Eventually, Renée herself took notice of her charm and began to paint her face on large canvases, rather obsessively. The couple spent two years together in the early 1930s, rollicking in Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, and Biarritz, as if on eternal vacation. Renée died in the South of France in 1977.
    “Tall, slim, a long neck, a shining lock of hair caressing her mouth.
    I see the reflection of Renee’s beauty in women’s eyes and men’s glances…

    Beside her, other women look like farm girls.”

    — Lartigue’s Diary: Paris, 10 March 1930

  • Gala Dalí

    Gala DalíGala Dalí, Carl Van Vechten c.1934
    Gala and Salvador Dalí sunbathingGala and Salvador Dalí sunbathing
    Gala and Salvador Dalí, in a photo boothGala and Salvador Dalí, in a photo booth
    Galatea of the SpheresGalatea of the Spheres, Salavdor Dalí. c.1952
    Three Vertebrae of a Column, Sky and ArchitectureMy Wife, Nude, Contemplating Her Own Flesh Becoming Stairs, Three Vertebrae of a Column, Sky and Architecture, Salvador Dalí c. 1945.
    Gala Dalí was an eminent figure among the surrealists, especially the men. She was married to poet Paul Éluard in 1918, but was notorious for affairs encouraged by Éluard, including a ménage à trois that lasted several years with Max Ernst.
    In 1929, Gala was introduced to Salvador Dalí, while visiting the town of Cadaqués with her husband. Dalí and Gala fell so deeply in love she abandoned her husband and child to live with him in the wilderness of Spain. Gala was the subject of many many Dalí paintings, and in his later life would sign his paintings with, “it is mostly with your blood, Gala, that I paint my pictures”.
    She was Salvador Dalí’s most famous muse, the love of his life, his manager, and his mentor. Although Gala had affairs throughout their marriage, it was encouraged by Dalí as well; all he wanted for her was to be pleased. When Gala passed in 1982, Dalí no longer would continue his art.

  • Marie-Thérèse Walter

    Le RêveLe Rêve, Pablo Picasso c.1932.
    Marie-Therese WalterMarie-Therese Walter, Pablo Picasso c.1937.
    Marie-Thérèse Marie-Thérèse au béret rouge et au col de fourrure, Pablo Picasso c.1937.
    Marie- Thérèse Walter and dogMarie- Thérèse Walter and dog
    Marie- Thérèse Walter sunbathing on rocksMarie- Thérèse Walter sunbathing on rocks
    The youngest, and perhaps most celebrated mistress of Picasso’s, was Marie-Thérèse Walter. The seventeen year old blonde met Picasso when he was forty-five in 1927. Picasso, immediately infatuated, suavely introduced himself to the young woman with, “We will do great things together. I am Picasso.” Although he was still married to Olga Khokhlova at the time, within three days a secret affair between them had begun.
    With Marie-Thérèse, Picasso took his art into a new direction. With her he saw sensuality, sexuality, and youth. The portraits painted and inspired by her, are some of Picasso’s most loved work. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, painted in 1932 of Marie-Thérèse, sold for $106.5 million at auction in 2004, setting a world record for the highest price paid for a Picasso.
    Their affair lasted from 1927 to 1935 when Marie-Thérèse became pregnant with Picasso’s daughter, Maya. The arrival of motherhood altered his fresh and pure image of her. Picasso still married, did not want a new family, and in 1936 she left him and moved to the south of France with Maya. He supported them the rest of his life and visited Maya occasionally (she too became his subject of his art on several occasions). Picasso soon met Dora Maar, ending Marie-Thérèse’s role as muse and mistress in Picasso’s life. She hung herself in 1977 in her garage at the age of 68.

  • Juliet Browner

    Juliet BrownerJuliet Browner, Man Ray c.1941-1955
    Juliet BrownerJuliet Browner, Man Ray c.1941-1955
    Juliet BrownerJuliet Browner, Lee Miller c.1941-1955
    Juliet BrownerJuliet Browner, Man Ray c.1941-1955
    Juliet BrownerJuliet Browner, Man Ray c.1941-1955
    It’s easy to see why Juliet Browner, undoubtedly one of Man Ray’s most beautiful models, was the subject of so many of his photographs. She was a first generation American of Romanian-Jewish lineage, and in her early life studied to be a dancer. In Los Angeles, she worked as an artists’ model during the same time Man Ray was taking temporary residence in Hollywood. They began living together almost immediately after meeting in 1940. In a double wedding with their friends Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, they married in Beverly Hills in 1946.
    The artist and muse traveled back to Montparnasse in 1951, and carried out the rest of their lives in France together. When Juliet died in 1991, she was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, in the same tomb as Man Ray, her head stone reading “Together again”.
    Juliet is the subject of Man Ray’s posthumously released book The Fifty Faces of Juliet. The book was Man Ray’s declaration of love to his wife, each photograph a different version of her fifty souls.


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