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.



George S. Stuart Dolls

George Stuart (born 1929) is an American sculptor, raconteur and historian. He has traveled the United States presenting historical monologues about the last four centuries in the Americas, Europe, Russia and China. Stuartprofileleft.jpg

He has created more than 400 “Historical Figures” in groups to complement his performances.

The groups include, American Revolutionary and Civil Wars (Samuel Adams to Abraham Lincoln), English Monarchies (Henry VII to Edward VII), Bourbon Dynasty (Henry IV to Charles X), Czarist Russia (Ivan IV to Joseph Stalin) Manchu Dynasty (Nurhachi to Mao Tse-Tung, Renaissance & Reformation (various rulers and clergy), Conquest of the Americas (Columbus to John Fremont), Really Awful People (history’s infamous), Warriors of the Ages, Germanic Myth & Legend (northern pantheon) and his earliest works. Stuart’s favorite figurine is that of Lincoln, which he describes as “…the most enjoyable thing I ever did. Truly compelling.”

Early Work.


Historical Figures of Italy

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.


Muse of Artists – Helena Fourment Rubens

Helena Fourment or Hélène Fourment (11 April 1614 – 15 July 1673) was the second wife of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens. She was the subject of a few portraits by Rubens, and also modeled for other religious and mythological paintings.

Hélène Fourment was the daughter of Daniël Fourment, an Antwerp silk merchant, and Clara Stappaerts.

Hélène Fourment married Rubens on 6 December 1630, when she was 16 years old and he was aged 53. His first wife, Isabella Brant, had died in 1626. Hélène’s brother Daniël Fourment the younger was married to Clara Brant, the sister of Isabella. Daniël Fourment the elder was an art lover and possessed works by Rubens and Jacob Jordaens, and works by Italian masters; he also commissioned from Rubens a series of tapestries depicting the life of Achilles.

Rubens and Hélène Fourment had five children:

  • Clara-Joanna, baptized 18 January 1632; she married Phlips van Parys, knight
  • Franciscus, baptized 12 July 1633; he married Susanna-Gratiana Charles
  • Isabella-Helena, baptized 3 May 1635
  • Peter Paul, baptized 1 March 1637, became a priest
  • Constantia-Albertina, baptized 3 February 1641; became a nun

After the death of Rubens, Helena started a relationship with Jan-Baptist van Brouchoven, assessor and alderman of Antwerp, who later became Count of Bergeyk.On 9 October 1644 their son Jan van Brouchoven, the later second Count of Bergeyk and one of the most important politicians in the Southern Netherlands of his time, was born, and Helena and Jan-Baptist married in 1645. They had five further children together.

Hélène Fourment was said to be very beautiful, amongst others by the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand of Austria, then Governor of the Netherlands, stating that she was “undoubtedly the most beautiful one may see here”,and by the poet Jan Caspar Gevaerts, a friend of Rubens, who praised “Helen of Antwerp, who far surpasses Helen of Troy”.


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.

Sophie Blanchard

Sophie Blanchard (25 March 1778 – 6 July 1819) was a French aeronaut and the wife of



ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband’s death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of “Aeronaut of the Official Festivals”, replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her “Official Aeronaut of the Restoration“.

Sophie Blanchard was born Marie Madeleine-Sophie Armant to Protestant parents at Trois-Canons, near La Rochelle. Little is known of her life before her marriage to Jean-Pierre Blanchard, the world’s first professional balloonist. The date of her marriage is unclear; sources quote dates as early as 1794  or 1797,but most state 1804, the year of her first ascent. Blanchard had abandoned his first wife, Victoire Lebrun, and their four children to travel round Europe pursuing his ballooning career, and she later died in poverty. Variously described as Blanchard’s “small, ugly, nervous wife”, “small with sharp bird-like features” and later as “small and beautiful”, Sophie was more at home in the sky than on the ground, where her nervous disposition meant she was easily startled. She was terrified of loud noises and of riding in carriages, but was fearless in the air.She and her husband were in an accident on a joint flight in 1807 (her 11th ascent, possibly his 61st), in which they crashed and he sustained a head injury. The shock apparently left her mute for a while.

Sophie made her first ascent in a balloon with Blanchard in Marseilles on 27 December 1804. The couple faced bankruptcy as a result of Blanchard’s poor business sense, and they believed a female balloonist was a novelty that might attract enough attention to solve their financial problems. She described the feeling as an “incomparable sensation” (“sensation incomparable“).Sophie made a second ascent with Blanchard and for her third ascent on 18 August 1805, she flew solo from the garden of the Cloister of the Jacobins in Toulouse.

She was not the first woman balloonist. On 20 May 1784, the Marchioness and Countess of Montalembert, the Countess of Podenas and a Miss de Lagarde had taken a trip on a tethered balloon in Paris. Neither was she the first woman to ascend in an untethered balloon: in Blanchard’s time, Citoyenne Henri, who had made an ascent with André-Jacques Garnerin in 1798, was widely credited with that ballooning first, although the honour actually belonged to Elizabeth Thible. Thible, an opera singer, had made an ascent to entertain Gustav III of Sweden in Lyon on 4 June 1784, fourteen years before Citoyenne Henri. Blanchard was, however, the first woman to pilot her own balloon and the first to adopt ballooning as a career.

In 1809, her husband died from injuries sustained when he fell from his balloon in the Hague after suffering a heart attack. After his death, Sophie continued to make ascents, specialising in night flights, often staying aloft all night.

She became a favourite of Napoleon, and he appointed her to replace André-Jacques Garnerin in 1804. Garnerin had disgraced himself by failing to control the balloon that he had sent up to mark Napoleon’s coronation in Paris; the balloon eventually drifted as far as Rome, where it crashed into the Lago di Bracciano and became the subject of many jokes at Napoleon’s expense.The title given to her by Napoleon is unclear: he certainly made her “Aeronaut of the Official Festivals” (“Aéronaute des Fêtes Officielles“) with responsibility for organising ballooning displays at major events,but he may have also made her his Chief Air Minister of Ballooning, in which role she is reported to have drawn up plans for an aerial invasion of England.

She made ascents for Napoleon’s entertainment on 24 June 1810 from the Champ de Mars 800px-Blanchardballoon3.jpgin Paris and at the celebration mounted by the Imperial Guard for his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria. On the birth of Napoleon’s son, Blanchard took a balloon flight over Paris from the Champs de Mars and threw out leaflets proclaiming the birth.She performed at the official celebration of his baptism at the Château de Saint-Cloud on 23 June 1811, with a firework display launched from the balloon, and again at the “Féte de l’Emperor” in Milan on 15 August 1811. She made an ascent in bad weather over the Campo Marte in Naples to accompany the review of the troops by Napoleon’s brother-in-lawJoachim Murat, the King of Naples, in 1811.When Louis XVIII entered Paris on 4 May 1814 after being restored to the French throne, Blanchard ascended in her balloon from the Pont Neuf as part of the triumphal procession. Louis was so taken with her performance that he dubbed her “Official Aeronaut of the Restoration”.


On 6 July 1819, while making an ascent to start a display over the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, her hydrogen-filled balloon caught fire and Blanchard, entangled in the surrounding net, fell to her death. She was reported to be unusually nervous before starting this ascent.

Blanchard had performed regularly at the Tivoli Gardens, making ascents twice a week when she was in Paris.She had been warned repeatedly of the danger of using fireworks in her exhibitions. This display was to be a particularly impressive one with many more pyrotechnics than usual, and it appears that the warnings had made an impression on her. Some spectators implored her not to make the ascent, but others, eager to see the show, urged her on. One report suggested that she finally made up her mind and stepped into her chair with the words “Allons, ce sera pour la dernière fois” (“Let’s go, this will be for the last time”).

At about 10:30 p.m. (accounts differ as to the exact time), Blanchard began her ascent, carrying a white flag and wearing a white dress and a white hat topped with ostrich plumes. The wind was blowing strongly, and it appears the balloon struggled to rise. By shedding ballast Blanchard managed to get some lift, but the balloon brushed through the trees as it ascended. Once she had cleared the treetops Blanchard began the display by waving her flag. The balloon was illuminated by baskets containing “Bengal fire“, a slow-burning, coloured pyrotechnic.

A few moments after beginning the display, and while still ascending, the balloon was seen to be in flames. Some reports say that the balloon momentarily disappeared behind a cloud and that when it reappeared it was on fire—whatever the circumstances, the gas in the balloon was burning. Blanchard began to descend rapidly, but the balloon, caught in the wind, continued to move off from the pleasure gardens even as it went down. Some spectators thought these events were part of the show and applauded and shouted their approval.The balloon had not risen very high and, although the escaping gas was burning, the gas within the balloon maintained sufficient lift for a while to prevent the craft plummeting directly to the ground. By rapidly shedding ballast Blanchard was able to slow the descent. Most reports say she appeared to be calm during the descent, but she was said to be wringing her hands in despair as the craft approached the ground.Rumours later circulated that she had gripped the chair of her craft so tightly that “several arteries had snapt through the effort.”

Just above the rooftops of the Rue de Provence the balloon’s gas was exhausted, and the craft struck the roof of a house.It was thought likely that she would have survived had that been the end of the incident, but the ropes holding the chair to the body of the balloon may have burnt through, or the impact may have thrown her forwards, with the result that Blanchard, trapped in the netting of the balloon, pitched over the side of the roof into the street below. John Poole, an eyewitness, described her final moments:

There was a terrible pause, then Mme Blanchard caught up in the netting of her balloon, fell with a crash upon the slanting roof of a house in the Rue de Provence, and then into the street, where she was taken up a shattered corpse.[24]

Some reports credit her with crying out “À moi!” (“help”, or literally, “to me”), as she struck the roof.Although the crowds rushed to her assistance and attempts were made to save her, she had either died instantly, from a broken neck, or at most ten minutes later.

The most likely cause of the accident seemed to be that the fireworks attached to her balloon had been knocked out of position by a tree as she ascended; possibly the balloon was heavily loaded and failed to rise quickly enough. When she had lit the fuses the fireworks headed towards the balloon instead of away from it; one of them burned a hole in the fabric, igniting the gas. One man reportedly spotted the problem and shouted to her not to light the fuses, but his cries were drowned out by the cheering of the crowd.[20] Later reports suggested she had left the gas valve open, allowing sparks to ignite the gas and set fire to the balloon, or that her balloon was of poor construction and allowed gas to escape throughout the ascent.[1]