WOMEN OF THE BELLE EPOQUE
THE YOUNGEST BEAUTY
Beware when you are combing it,
In the nights and mornings,
Shaking its splendor out.
I bid you comb it carefully,
For my soul is caught there,
Wound in the web of it.
Robinson Jeffers, To Helen About Her Hair (excerpt)
Was 25 year old French painter Paul Cesar Helleu (1859-1927) already enamored with teenager Mademoiselle Alice Guerin by the time he completed her portrait in 1884? Model and artist would marry within a few years when she was 16. Helleu, a life-long friend and colleague of John Singer Sargent, would then immortalize his wife in several works using a variety of media, including oil, pastel, as well as prints.
American poet Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) is probably best known today for his love of the environment, reflected in writings such as Ascent to the Sierra and Carmel Point. Born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jeffers spent most of his career living along the central California coast; his home Tor House and Hawk Tower has been preserved and is presently open to the public.
For a view of the Helleus by John Singer Sargent, click: