Le Deut

by Paul Cesar Helleu


Color chalks and pencil on tan wove paper,
circa 1900.
Sheet size: 653x500mm
(25 3/4x19 3/4 in)
Signed in pencil, lower right recto.
Framed size: 36.5 x 31 x 1.5 inches
Ex-collection private collection, Chicago.


Paul César Helleu was a French painter known for his portraits and scenes of society women during the Bell Époque. Throughout his work, he regularly depicted the period of time between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the beginning of World War I in elegant and stylized figurative paintings. Helleu’s work was influenced by his friendships with numerous important painters of the day, including James McNeill Whister, John Singer Sargent, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas. Born on December 17, 1859 in Vannes, France, he went on to study at the École des Beaux-Arts under the Orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris. After a slow start to his career, Helleu eventually joined elite literary and cultural circles with the likes of Marcel Proust and Robert de Montesquioum, who was a patron of his work. Helleu was awarded the Légion d’honneur in 1904 and received many important commissions, including one to decorate the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York. His works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others. The artist died on March 23, 1927 in Paris, France.