Paul César Helleu (French, 1859-1927)
    Madame Helleu aboard the yacht 'Bird'
    Oil on canvas
    23 x 25-1/2 inches (58.4 x 64.8 cm)
    Signed lower left: Helleu

    Christie's, London, November 24, 1989, lot 69;
    Private collection;
    Sotheby's, New York, May 7, 1998, lot 248;
    Private collection, Florida.

    Galerie Jean Charpentier, Paris, "Exposition Paul Helleu," November 3-17, 1931, no. 30;
    Musée de Dieppe, Dieppe, France, "Le Bains de Mer," June-September, 1962, no. 24;
    Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, "Exposition Marcel Proust," 1965, no. 274.

    F. de Watrigant, Paul-César Helleu, Paris, 2014, pp. 226-27, illustrated.

    Paul Helleu was born in Brittany and moved to Paris at age 16 to study at the École des Beaux-Arts with Jean-Léon Gérôme. He soon developed friendships with artists such as Sargent, Degas, Whistler and Boldini and after an introduction into Parisian society by Comte Robert de Montesquiou, who became his great patron, his success was assured. Helleu's pastels were greatly admired as were his drypoint engravings of elegant ladies of the beau monde. His works in the difficult medium of drypoint are precisely drawn and contrast sharply with the loose, impressionist brushwork in oils which is so attractive in the present painting.

    Helleu's success as portraitist to the privileged society of Paris, enabled him to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle attending parties and salons, and in the late 1890s, spending summers yachting with his family along the coasts of Normandy and England. He had a passion for the sea and took the opportunity to paint en plein air views of such ports as Deauville and Trouville, as well as the friends and family who joined these sailing adventures. One of the first yachts he hired was the 'Bird,' and in the present picture, his preferred model Alice, his lovely wife, lounges gracefully on its deck protected from the bright sun and fair winds by her parasol. The cool palette of blues, whites and lavenders echo the colors of the sea that surrounds the 'Bird,' and combined with the quick, loose brush strokes one senses the quick breeze that fills her sails.

    Condition Report*:

    Glue-lined canvas; craquelure, however, surface is stable; minor frame wear; under UV light, there appears to be a few thin possible touches of inpaint to vertical crack at center of work. Framed Dimensions 33.75 X 36.75 X 5 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2016
    7th Wednesday
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