Tag Archives: Nice

Jeanne Hébuterne – Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice

6 Apr

Amedeo Modigliani’s muse and the love of his life was born on 6 April 1898 in Paris. Her delicate demeanor and strange beauty quickly attracted many starving-artists, among them the handsome and charismatic Jewish Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani who turned out to be her great love and eventually the cause of her downfall. The tale of Modigliani and Jeanne’s love is perhaps the most tragic love story in the world of art.

1916. Jeanne Hebuterne at 19 Years, photoPhoto of Jeanne at the age of 19, taken in 1917.

Jeanne Hébuterne met Amedeo around her nineteenth birthday, in April 1917, in the cultural center of Paris at the time – Montparnasse. The two soon fell deeply in love and Jeanne moved in with Modigliani, despite the objections from her parents, strict middle-class Catholics. This is the beginning of the story that ends with death, on both sides.

Jeanne and her older brother André, showed artistic talents from an early age. Despite the conservativeness of her parents, Jeanne was allowed to enroll at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and to take classes at the Académie Colarossi. The Colarossi was on the Avenue de la Grande Chaumiere; the very center of Montparnasses’ avant-garde culture. What a coincidence that the young Jewish Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, known as ‘Modi’, also lived on that street.Although it was not far from Jeanne’s home, Montparnasse was culturally and ideologically a completely different place; in the context of Jeanne’s strict and sheltered existence in which she had been raised, it was an entirely different universe. At the Académie, Jeanne befriended other female artists such as Chana Orloff and Germaine Labaye who introduced her to Cafe life, particularly at ‘La Rotonde’ where she may have met Amedeo.

Despite her own artistic aspirations, and the fact that she was a proficient painter in her own right, Jeanne’s position as a painter rather than a painter’s muse is often overlooked, as it is the case with many female artist/models. Along with Jeanne, Elizabeth Siddal and Victorine Meurent are one of the best examples of overlooked talents.

1918. Portrait of the Artist's Wife (Jeanne Hebuterne) - Amedeo Modigliani1918. Portrait of the Artist’s Wife (Jeanne Hebuterne) – Amedeo Modigliani

Jeanne possessed a strange beauty which gained her many admirers at Montparnasse. Her eyes were bright blue and her hair was long and auburn. She was nicknamed ‘Noix de Coco‘ (‘Coconut’) due to the shape of her head and her very pale skin. All together her striking features created a ‘gothic appearance’, as it was described by one sculptor who had met her.

Along with her beauty, Jeanne possessed a sedate demeanour and was described as ‘gentle, shy, quiet and delicate. Slightly depressive.‘ With her calmness and youthfulness she was a perfect balance for Amedeo; habitual drinker, drug-user and womaniser who was fourteen years her senior. Due to these contrasts, Jeanne is often seen as a ‘pure girl’ who saved Modigliani. The situation reminds me of ‘Crime and Punishment’ where the pious and self-sacrificing Sonia saved moody Raskolikov. In addition to drawing and painting, Jeanne was known for being musical; she played the violin and she also designed and sewed her own clothes which can be seen in Modigliani’s portraits of her.

It does not surprise me at all that Jeanne was Modigliani’s muse. What other demoiselle, what other face could possibly reveal to us the meaning behind Modigliani’s art?

1917. Amedeo Modigliani 'Jeanne Hebuterne with Hat and Necklace'1917. Amedeo Modigliani – Jeanne Hebuterne with Hat and Necklace

For Modigliani, the future of art was in woman’s face. He painted Jeanne no more and no less than 26 times. Every single one of those portraits is like a love letter: very delicate, lyrical, spiritual and calm. Modigliani painted her lost in her thoughts, distant from reality, place and time, and extraordinary beautiful. Claude Roy said of these portraits ‘Modigliani is speaking here almost in a whisper; he murmurs his painting as a lover murmurs endearments in the ear of his beloved.

Amedeo moved to Nice in March 1918, hoping to sell his paintings to wealthy art experts who wintered there, and that the warm climate would have soothing effect on his fragile health, burdened with heavy drinking and substance abuse. Jeanne followed him, and on 29 November their daughter was born in Nice, out of wedlock. Little girl was named Jeanne after her mother. Although very little is known about their time spent in Nice, it is known with certainty that Modigliani was planing to marry Jeanne as soon as he got his papers.

1916. Self portrait by Jeanne Hébuterne1916. Self portrait by Jeanne Hébuterne

Sadly, he had no time to fulfill his promise. Amedeo Modigiani died on 24 January 1920 of tubercular meningitis. Jeanne was deeply affected by his death, and the next day, eight months pregnant with their second child, anguished and distraught, she committed suicide by trowing herself from the window of her parents’ apartment. With deep affection for Modigliani, Jeanne could not imagine life without him. The artist and his muse were united in death. Jeanne was only twenty-one years old.

Her epitaph read ‘Devoted Companion to the Extreme Sacrifice’.

Advertisements

What would Amy March wear ?

14 Nov

Little women is one of my favourite books, and although I love all the characters, Amy is my favourite and I find to like how her life turned out at the end. I never could help it wonder ”what did Amy March wear ?” Since I entered the magical word of history of fashion I have been able to answer my question, and now I’ll answer this question to all of you who were wondering the same.

1861. ladies in evening dresses, may

Amy March wore simple and casual dresses when she was a child. The Marches were poor and simple family and it’s only natural that they didn’t put much emphasis on clothing and fashion. Amy is twelve years old at the beginning of the book, so unfortunately she missed most of the civil war era balls that Meg went to. Amy was too young at the time so she always stayed home with Beth.

1863. children's fashions

1863. Children’s fashions, La Follet.

”Little Raphael”, as her sisters called her, was in a fair way to be spoiled because everyone pampered her indulged her often selfish wishes. But there was one thing, however, that quenched her vanities. She had to wear her cousin’s dresses.

Now, Florence’s mama hadn’t a particular of taste, and Amy suffered deeply at having to wear a red instead of blue bonnet, unbecoming gowns, and fussy aprons that did not fit. Everything was good, well made, and little worn, but Amy’s artistic eyes were much afflicted, especially this winter, when her school dress was a dull purple with yellow dots and no trimming.

She hated her purple school dress with yellow ”skyrockets” on it. Seriously, who wouldn’t ? Now, let’s take a look at some fashion plates from the Civil war era:

1864. children's fashions October, Godey's

1864. Children’s Fashions for October, Godey’s Lady’s Book.

Descriptions for the four girls:

”Fig 1 – Gray poplin dress, trimmed with a fluted ribbon of Tartan colors. Gray straw hat, trimmed with plaid velvet and gray feathers.

Fig 2 – Solferino merino dress, trimmed with black silk and Solferino braid.

Fig 3 – Napolean blue cashmere dress, trimmed with rows of black velvet. White muslin guimpe, finished at the throat with a worked edge. White muslin de laine petticoat, trimmed on the edge with a fluting of the material. Above this are three rows of black silk braid.

Fig 4 – Gray cashmere skirt, trimmed with a bias band of white cashmere, edged and braided with scarlet velvet. Garibaldi and sash of white cashmere, bound and braided with scarlet velvet. Scarlet cloth jacket, braided with white and trimmed with black drop buttons.”

1860s children's clothing

Now, I know that the beginning of the story was set in December 1861. but this particular fashion plate shows the dresses which a twelve year old Amy would most likely be wearing. At the age of twelve girls wore dresses just little bellow the knee. Amy was just between being a child and a woman; she was indeed a little women.

Although the dresses of little girls highly resembled their mothers, I’m sure that Marmee would never force Amy into wearing huge crinolines that were fashionable at the time. Amy’s dresses were probably more simple and comfortable than these fashion plates suggest.

1861. paris fashions for women, teen and a child

As Amy grew older she started wearing more elegant and fashionable dresses. At the age of sixteen she was very beautiful with big blue eyes, perfect porcelain skin and golden locks. Although her dresses weren’t the newest or the most fashionable she knew how to use the best out of them. Amy also had a sweet, almost angelic personality so everybody liked her, especially aunt March who decided to take her to Europe as a companion. Aunt bought her some dresses and bonnets in London because she packed herself in a rush and forgot half of the things.

”Aunt Mary got me some new things, for I came off in such a hurry I wasn’t half ready. A white hat and blue feather, a muslin dress to match , and the loveliest mantle you ever saw. Shopping in Regent street is perfectly splendid. Things seem so cheap, nice ribbons only sixpence a yard. I laid in a stock, but shall buy my gloves in Paris. Doesn’t that sound sort of elegant and rich ?”

1866. ball gown and day dress france

In my opinion, pastel colours would enhance the beauty of Amy’s porcelain skin the most. I love the part when Laurie visits Amy in Nice. Nice was equally beautiful seaside town in the nineteenth century as it is now, but the best part of Nice was fashion. French elegance combined with seaside fashion – the best thing imaginable !

I can already picture Amy taking a walk with Laurie on Promenade des Anglais on a beautiful sunny day. In my head she’s wearing elegant rose-coloured seaside dress with little white dots; french simplicity with evocation of the Regency spirit from the beginning of the century.

1867. france  Cendrillon

Amy’s evening dresses were superb; she wore a lot of tulle and decorated her gowns with roses which grew in every garden in Nice. I think her evening gown could look something like the pink one above. I feel like Amy would look the best in pink. Just look at beautiful that dress above; look at that gorgeous colour, nice smooth cut, beautiful white lace and tulle details and crown at the end – lots and lots of pink roses; almost like a fairytale.

1866.

The last two dresses are perfect for Amy’s long walks in the gardens and painting sessions. Simple dresses with youthful and elegant designs are best for sweet little Amy. True beauty and grace will shine trough any kind of clothing, and that’s the case here – Amy could look young, sweet and effortlessly beautiful in any dress, whether fashionable or old and warn out.