Oiseau Noir (c.1940)


Gouache on paper; inscribed with title and measurements at the bottom
In period frame

85cm x 69cm in the frame


Henriette-Hélène de Beauvoir (6 June 1910 – 1 July 2001) was a French painter and sister of philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)1949), author most famously of The Second Sex (1949), a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism. Hélène was a lifelong feminist too (and became one before her older sister she was keen to point out in her memoirs) – the sisters being two of the great figures in the movement of the 20th century.

Trained at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere and at the Académie Colarossi, Hélène was introduced to the circle of Jean-Paul Sartre as well as Picasso, Dalí and Cocteau – Picasso being a great supporter of her work. She exhibited throughout Europe, in London, Japan and the US. She featured in the Paris Salon in May 1960. Marrying Lionel de Boulet, a disciple of Sartre’s in 1942, she settled in the village of Goxwiller, near Strasbourg where she established and presided over a centre for battered women. She published a memoir Souvenirs to much acclaim in 1987. She continued painting to her death.

This painting, highly reminiscent of David Bomberg’s revolutionary early work, is characteristic of the best of her oeuvre – uncompromisingly modern yet unmistakably chic.

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