19th Century European & Orientalist Art, Christie’s London, King Street, 9 December 2014
This elegant interior is by the celebrated French artist Paul-César Helleu (1859-1927) and depicts his wife Alice Guérin, who was his favourite model and when I saw it the other day thought that I should share it with you.
As in some of his works the sitter is seen from behind, here seated at a secrétaire, which incidentally is still in the artist’s family. This elegant room was their drawing room and the walls were hung with a mixture of 18th century drawings and works by his contemporaries, such as the Leda and the Swan by Giovanni Boldini which hangs above the secrétaire. Although the furniture was either 18th century or Empire there is also a nod to the fashion for Japonisme at that time in the porcelain Koi carp, hanging to the left.
It is an exceptionally elegant room with an appeal that still resonates today.