Muse and model to some of the world's most renowned artists of the 20th century, Helena Rubinstein built close relationships with many painters and sculptors from across the world. Although her personal taste for avant-garde artworks was well known, she was a lover of all different forms and interpretations of art. The pieces she collected over the years are an important part of her life story.
Helena Rubinstein and the painters
It was Edward William Titus, her first husband, who introduced Helena Rubinstein to the world of art and the local painters in Montmartre, Paris. At the time, she was fairly shy and wasn't accustomed to socializing with strangers, however this did not prevent her from being able to appreciate their work. Very quickly, she befriended these artists and friendships were born. Her life soon became embroiled in the creative world of art and she became an avid collector of paintings and sculptures created by the most famous artists that ever lived. The director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York once made an offer to buy her collection, showing just how impressive her collection was.
Matisse was her favorite artist, but she didn't limit herself to just his creations. 'The Bathers' (or in French Les baigneuse) by Renoir and 'A Woman's portrait' (In French Un portrait de femme) by Kees van Dongen were also some of her most loved paintings.
During her numerous visits to art galleries in Paris and New York, Helena Rubinstein bought and collected everything that took her fancy. Each and every one of her houses and beauty institutes were covered in prestigious artwork. Rather than purchasing paintings for their financial value, she always valued the sentimental value of each work of art.
Portraits of Helena Rubinstein
After building her own beauty empire single-handedly, Helena Rubinstein wanted to leave an artistic image of herself behind. Over the course of her life, more than twenty artists painted her portrait, which were all hung onto one single wall. She loved to be painted and to pose, and often lingered around her wall of portraits.
Each of the painters who she allowed to paint a portrait of her, were keen to please and obliged, much like Salvador Dali in 1942. Only Picasso turned down this exceptional woman's request and only ever drew a couple of sketches, never a full portrait.
Her genuine friendship and passion for artists meant that Helena Rubinstein became much more than a muse. Her love for artwork was demonstrated by her decision to become a patron of the arts late in her life for the foundations she held dearly in her heart.