Paul Cesar Helleu (1859-1927) - Fille timide aux cheveux roux - Lithograph

Paul Cesar Helleu (1859-1927) - Fille timide aux cheveux roux - Lithograph

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Paul Cesar Helleu (1859-1927)

NAME:                     Fille timide aux cheveux roux                

ENGLISH NAME:   Shy Red Hair Girl

DATE:                      1913 creation

MEDIUM:                 Lithograph

STYLE:                    Art Nouveau


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Paul César Helleu (1859 –1927) was a French oil painter, pastel artist, drypoint etcher, and designer, best known for his numerous portraits of beautiful society women of the Belle Époque. He is also painted the Ceiling Mural for the GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL in NYC. His son, Jean Helleu and grandson, Jacques Helleu were both artistic directors for Parfums Chanel.

Paul César Helleu born in Vannes, Brittany, France. When he was in his teens, his father died.  At the age of 16, (1876) he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts. He also meet John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Claude Monet the same year.

By 1878 he was a close friend with John Singer Sargent and this friendship lasted a life time.  Helleu was commissioned in 1884 to paint a portrait of a young woman named Alice Guérin whom he married on 28 July 1886. She was always his favorite model and was thought to be a charming, refined and graceful woman.  She introduced Helleu to the aristocratic circles of Paris and they became very popular.

Helleu was introduced to the Parisian literary salons by Montesquiou, where he met Marcel Proust, who also befriended Helleu.  Proust portrayed Helleu as Elstir in À La Recherche du Temps Perdu.  On Helleu’s second trip to the United States in 1912, he was awarded a commission to design the ceiling in New York’s Grand Central Station. He made his last trip NYC in 1920 and when returning home, destroyed all of his copper plates and retired to family life. In 1927, he died from peritonitis.