L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Madame Errázuriz, by Romaine Brooks, 1908-1910

Eugenia Huici de Errázuriz (15 September 1860, Calera, Chile – 1951, Santiago de Chile, Chile), wealthy and beautiful Chilean-born patroness and style leader during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, mainly resident in Paris and the south of France. She was a supporter of Modernism and helped pave the way for the modernist minimalist aesthetic that would later be taken up in fashion and interior design. Her circle of friends and protégés included Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Cocteau, Fauré, Jean-Michel Frank, Cecil Beaton, and Picasso. And her portrait was painted by all the great artists of her day. Late in life she became a Franciscan lay nun - with a plain black habit designed by Chanel. She died at ninety-one, hit by a car while crossing the street.


Romaine Brooks (1 May 1874, Rome – 7 December 1970, Nice), born Beatrice Romaine Goddard, American painter who specialized in portraits, usually with a very subdued palette dominated by the color gray. (The above painting is an early work and an exception.) She eschewed the current trends and was more influenced stylistically by the Symbolist movement of the late nineteenth century. She painted many of the interesting personalities of her day, especially those in artistic and lesbian circles, and is best remembered for her images of women in masculine or androgynous attire. An interesting figure in her own right, fictional portraits of her are present in novels by Radclyffe Hall, Compton Mackenzie, and Djuna Barnes. Mainly resident in Paris before World War II, she made very little work after 1925.

The product of an unhappy and unstable childhood, she inherited a fortune at her mother's death in 1902, which allowed her a good degree of personal and artistic freedom. The next year, she married a homosexual friend, John Ellingham Brooks, most likely because, as a married woman, she would have still more freedom of action; they separated after a year. Her most important - though quite stormy - relationship was with the ex-patriot American writer Natalie Barney, which lasted more than fifty years. Increasingly reclusive and paranoid in her later years, she died at the age of ninety-six.


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