Muse of Artists –Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne (6 April 1898 – 25 January 1920) was a French artist, best known as the frequent subject and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani.

She was born in Meaux, Seine-et-Marne to a Roman Catholic family. Her father, Achille Casimir Hébuterne, worked at Le Bon Marché department store.

A beautiful girl, she was introduced to the artistic community in Montparnasse by her brother André Hébuterne who wanted to become a painter. She met several of the then-starving artists and modelled for Tsuguharu Foujita.

However, wanting to pursue a career in the arts, and with a talent for drawing, she chose to study at the Académie Colarossi. It was there in the spring of 1917 that Jeanne Hébuterne was introduced to Amedeo Modigliani by the sculptor Chana Orloff (1888–1968) who came with many other artists to take advantage of the Academy’s live models. Jeanne began an affair with the charismatic artist, and the two fell deeply in love. She soon moved in with him, despite strong objection from her parents.

Described by the writer Charles-Albert Cingria (fr) (1883–1954) as gentle, shy, quiet, andJeanne Hebuterne seated.jpg delicate, Jeanne Hébuterne became a principal subject for Modigliani’s art. In the fall of 1918, the couple moved to the warmer climate of Nice on the French Riviera where Modigliani’s agent hoped he might raise his profile by selling some of his works to the wealthy art connoisseurs who wintered there. While they were in Nice, their daughter was born on 29 November. The following spring, they returned to Paris and Jeanne became pregnant again. By this time, Modigliani was suffering from tuberculous meningitis and his health, made worse by complications brought on by substance abuse, was deteriorating badly.

On 24 January 1920 Amedeo Modigliani died. Jeanne Hébuterne’s family brought her to their home but Jeanne, totally distraught, threw herself out of the fifth-floor apartment window the day after Modigliani’s death, killing herself and her unborn child.[3][5] Her family, who blamed her demise on Modigliani, interred her in the Cimetière de Bagneux. Nearly ten years later, the Hébuterne family finally relented and allowed her remains to be transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery to rest beside Modigliani. Her epitaph reads: “Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice.”

Their orphaned daughter, Jeanne Modigliani (1918–84), was adopted by her father’s sister in Florence, Italy. She grew up knowing virtually nothing of her parents and as an adult began researching their lives. In 1958, she wrote a biography of her father that was published in the English language in the United States as Modigliani: Man and Myth.



Louis XVI and Madame Royale

“Louis XVI and Madame Royale
“Marie Thérèse and her father shared an affectionate relationship that began during the first days of her life. Ambassador Mercy wrote, of the week after her birth, that the king “did not want to leave the...

Marie Thérèse and her father shared an affectionate relationship that began during the first days of her life. Ambassador Mercy wrote, of the week after her birth, that the king “did not want to leave the chateau even to take a walk,” and that he spent most of his day in the Queen’s chambers, dividing “his time between the Queen and his august child, to whom he shows the most touching love.” Some of the first words spoken by the young Marie Thérèse were, to the delight of her parents, “Papa.”

In his recollections of the royal family’s imprisonment in the Temple, Jean-Baptiste Cléry recalled the pain that the king felt in being separated from his family during his trial proceedings, but especially from being separated from his child on her birthday:

On the 19th of December the king said to me while dining: ‘Fourteen years ago you got up earlier than you did to-day.’ I understood His Majesty at once. ‘That was the day my daughter was born,’ he continued tenderly, ‘and to-day, her birthday, I am deprived of seeing her!’ A few tears rolled from his eyes, and a respectful silence reigned for a moment.

Cléry also recollected the family’s final parting from their husband, brother and father:

“Adieu–” He uttered that “adieu” in so expressive a manner that the sobs redoubled. Madame Royale fell fainting at the king’s feet, which she clasped.


Curiosity – Lover’s eyes

Marie Antoinette’s Playhouse:
These tiny eye paintings started as a fad in the late 1700s. Their purpose? To carry a piece of a loved one at all times without revealing their identity.
It’s a true token of a love affair, and fodder for a story of...

These tiny eye paintings started as a fad in the late 1700s. Their purpose?To carry a piece of a loved one at all times without revealing their identity.

It’s a true token of a love affair, and fodder for a story of romance.

The alleged beginning of these “lover’s eyes” comes from the prince of Wales, later King George IV, who once became determined to court a Catholic, twice-widowed woman named Maria Fitzherbert. The court frowned upon this courting and at first Maria Fitzherbert was not particularly impressed either. Finally, she reluctantly agreed to marry him, though their marriage would not be officially recognized since George III had not approved it.

Some accounts say that Maria came to her senses before the marriage and fled to America. But the prince did not give up. He sent her a locket with a miniature painting of his eye inside and the note, “P.S. I send you a parcel, and I send you at the same time an eye. If you have not totally forgotten the whole countenance, I think the likeness will strike you.” Whether it was the portrait or his letter, Maria decided to give in and marry George. Rumors say that George kept a portrait of Maria’s eye as well.

Marie Antoinette’s Playhouse:
These tiny eye paintings started as a fad in the late 1700s. Their purpose? To carry a piece of a loved one at all times without revealing their identity.
It’s a true token of a love affair, and fodder for a story of...

Marie Antoinette’s Playhouse:
These tiny eye paintings started as a fad in the late 1700s. Their purpose? To carry a piece of a loved one at all times without revealing their identity.
It’s a true token of a love affair, and fodder for a story of...

Marie Antoinette’s Playhouse:
These tiny eye paintings started as a fad in the late 1700s. Their purpose? To carry a piece of a loved one at all times without revealing their identity.
It’s a true token of a love affair, and fodder for a story of...


Bella Rosenfeld Chagall (1895-1944)

chagall010Bella was born in Vitebsk, White Russia, the youngest of eight children of Shmuel Noah and Alta Rosenfeld.

Her parents, owners of a successful jewelry business, were members of the ḥasidic community and conducted their family life according to Jewish tradition. However, they also sought out secular education and opportunities for their children. Chagall, who was educated in Russian language schools, became a student in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Moscow in her teens; she was particularly interested in theater and art, and as a university student, she contributed articles to a Moscow newspaper.

In 1909, while visiting friends in St. Petersburg, she met Marc Chagall; their attraction was instantaneous and they were soon engaged.chagall-e-bella-Although both were from Vitebsk, their social worlds were far apart and the Rosenfelds were unhappy with the engagement.

The couple finally married in 1915 and their only child, Ida, was born the next year. In 1922, Marc Chagall moved his family to France. Bella was a constant subject in her husband’s art, often represented as a beloved bride. The Chagalls fled to the United States following the outbreak of World War II, arriving in New York in 1941.

Bella Chagall died in 1944 in the United States, apparently of a viral infection. Bella Chagall’s literary work included the editing and translation of her husband’s 1922 autobiography from Russian into French (Ma Vie, 1931; Eng. trans., My Life, 1960).

Marc Chagall with Bella Rosenfeld, 1934

Her major work, Burning Lights (Brenendike Likht), written in Yiddish in France in 1939, was published posthumously in English in 1946. Chagall said that her visits to Jewish communities in Palestine in 1931 and Vilna in 1935 prompted her to write in Yiddish, her “faltering mother tongue.” In Burning Lights, Chagall arranges her reminiscences according to the calendar and observances of the Jewish year. Writing in the voice of her childhood self, Basha, she places female experience at the center of her luminous narrative.

Chagall’s selective portrait of her well-to-do urban family, living among and employing gentiles, successful in business, religiously active, and communally philanthropic, contrasts with contemporaneous depictions of the contained and impoverished Jewish life of the East European shtetl.

A great part of the genius of Brenendike Likht is Chagall’s ability to convey simultaneously the timelessness of traditional Jewish life and a dark foreboding prompted by the existential reality of East European Jewry in the 1930s. A second posthumous autobiographical volume, First Encounter, was published in 1983.

Queen Victoria writes to King Leopold I

After reading Matterhorn’s lovely post about Queen Louise, I recalled reading a letter fromQueen Victoria by Charles Brocky, 1841 Queen Victoria to King Leopold, following Louise’s death. Although Queen Victoria – the doyenne of mourners! – tends to be very over-emotional in all her letters to bereaved people, this letter shows her genuine affection, love and respect for the Queen and for King Leopold and his family:

Osborne House 18th October 1850

My dearest Uncle,
This was the day I always and for so many years wrote to her, to our adored Louise and now I write to you to thank you for that heart-breaking, touching letter of the 16th, which you so very kindly wrote to me.

What a day Tuesday must have been! Welch Einen Gang! and yesterday! My grief was so great again yesterday.
To talk of her is my greatest consolation! Let us all try to imitate her!
My poor, dear Uncle, we so wish to be with you if we can be of any use to you, to go to you for 2 or 3 days quite quietly and alone, to Laeken, without anyone and without any reception, to cry with you and to talk with you of her. It will be a great comfort to us – a silent tribute of love and respect for her – to be able to mingle our tears with yours at her tomb.
And the affection of your two devoted children [the Queen is referring to herself and Prince Albert, King Leopold’s niece and nephew] will perhaps be of some slight balm.
My first impulse was to fly at once to you but perhaps a few weeks’
delay will be better.
It will be a great and melancholy satisfaction to us. Daily you will feel more, my dearest Uncle, the poignancy of your dreadful loss; my heart breaks in thinking of you and the poor, dear children. How beautiful it must be to see that your whole country weeps and mourns with you. For the country and for your children you must try to bear up and feel that in doing so, you are doing all SHE wished.
If only we could be of use to you! If I could do anything for poor, little Charlotte. whom our blessed Louise talked of so often to me.
May I write to you on Fridays as I used to write to her, as well as on Tuesdays? You need not answer me and whenever it bores you to write to me or you have no time, let one of the dear children write to me.
May God bless and protect you ever, my beloved Uncle, is our anxious prayer. Embrace the dear children in the name of one who has almost the love of a mother for them. Ever your devoted Niece and Loving Child,
Victoria R.

Courtship and Marriage in Regency Era

“Courtship” by Felix Friedrich Von Ende

The hunt for a husband in Regency England was a serious business and upper class families invested large sums of money to give their daughters a ‘season’ in London.

An unattached woman had no occupation other than to find a husband but on no account must she signal that this was her goal. It was the single man wanting a wife who must do the work of wooing and winning according to a strict code of conduct. The code protected the woman’s reputation but also prevented the man from becoming ensnared against his will.cassel4

The prohibitions put upon the unmarried were many.
Before an engagement, couples could not converse privately or be alone in a room, travel unchaperoned in a carriage, call one another by their Christian names, correspond with or give gifts to one another, dance more than two sets together on any evening or touch intimately – and that included handshakes.
Greeting and leave taking were acknowledged with a slight bow of the head or curtsy.

So in a period when propriety was so strictly policed, how did courtship ever progress?
Ways and means did exist for young men and women to interact and exchange smiles, sighs and becoming blushes.
Private balls and public assemblies were ideal opportunities for couples to come together.
Gloved hands could be held briefly during the dance and while walking to and from a set. Under the watchful supervision of their elders, the young and unattached could stand up with each other, demonstrate their gracefulness, their ability to converse intelligently and their compatibility.
In similar fashion interested partners might become better acquainted on chaperoned walks in the countryside, falling behind the rest of the party if they wished to speak privately.

marriage.jpgWhen a gentleman was certain his feelings were reciprocated, he would ask permission of the lady’s parents to pay his addresses. A suitably private setting for the proposal could then be arranged. Most often he would be answered positively since it was very bad form for a lady to encourage an attachment she could not return. Occasionally an unwelcome proposal might be made despite her lack of encouragement, and then the lady would have to turn her suitor down but always with sensitivity to the man’s feelings.

Once a proposal was accepted and parental consent was obtained, to break off an engagement was considered very grave. An engagement was seen as a contract. A gentleman was strictly forbidden from breaking an engagement once accepted and a lady could only change her mind after careful consideration.

There were strict rules governing marriage. In order to marry legally, a couple needed a license and the reading of the banns. They also required parental consent if either of them were under the age of 21 and the ceremony had to be conducted in a church or chapel by authorised clergy. The only way round this was elopement to Gretna Green in Scotland or if you were extremely wealthy, the purchase of a ‘special license’ issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury which permitted the couple to marry at a location other than a church. Needless to say, either course of action was likely to create intense and often unpleasant gossip.

During the Regency, weddings were mostly private affairs and even fashionable weddings were sparingly attended. They were certainly not the huge affairs that we know today or that became more prevalent during the Victorian era. The bride might sometimes wear white but it was not considered mandatory. A coloured dress did not signify lack of chasteness but was simply a personal preference.

Wedding scene in winter featuring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mr and Mrs Darcy from BBC Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1995).


February 29: Tips for women thinking of proposing this leap year

Ladies, think it’s about time you made an honest man of him? Jump on board an age-old tradition and pop the question yourself on February 29.


Every four years, there comes a day when women can take the bull by the horns and ask their man to marry them.

February 29 is traditionally the one day when women can propose marriage and, according to a survey in British Heart Foundation shops, more than a third of British women are thinking about popping the question this year. It seems London ladies are the most in control of their relationships, with almost half of them thinking about proposing.

Today’s society doesn’t frown on women who propose but this wasn’t always the case. There are several theories surrounding the advent of leap year proposals but, back in the days when the rules of courtship were a lot stricter, women were  simply not allowed to pop the question.

At that time, February 29 wasn’€™t a recognised date, so the day itself was simply leapt over an€™  hence the name. Since it had no legal standing, legend has it that people  assumed tradition had no official status on this day, either. Therefore, women had an opportunity to change the custom that only men could propose. What’€™s more, if a man rejected a women€™s proposal, he had to buy her 12 pairs of gloves, to hide the embarrassment of the lady in question not having an engagement ring.

 The leap year tradition is cultural, says relationship expert and agony aunt Susan Quilliam. €˜While it’s fun, it’€™s not really relevant to the 21st century. Now either partner can take the initiative and suggest that they move to the next stage. But the decision to marry is almost always something a couple work towards together.

So, if you think your man€™s dragging his feet, use February 29 as an excuse to ask him to make an honest woman out of you.If all else fails, you might at least get some gloves€.