Paul CÚsar HELLEU 1859 - 1927
Notorious for his portraits of famous and beautiful women, Portrait of a Lady is no exception to the typical style of Paul César Helleu. Born in Brittany, France, he began his career as a ceramic artist, but later abandoned this and went to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the tutelage of Jean-Léon Gérôme, a noted Academic artist. It was in Paris that he became friends with John Singer Sargent, who encouraged Helleu with his artistic career.
It was through his marriage in 1886 to Alice Guerin that Helleu became involved with high society, which was to figure so prominently in his portraits. In 1904 he was awarded the Legion d'honneur, and was a member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers, and the Societaire de la Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Some of his most prominent patrons were the Duchess of Marlborough, the Countess of Greffulhe, the Marchesa Casati and Bella da Costa Greene.