Paul Helleu was a French artist, known for his portraits of upper class women such as the one here. His career as an artist almost ended prematurely until he met James Jacques Tissot. Tissot showed Helleu the wonders of drypoint etching with a diamond tipped stylus, and from that point forward Helleu's prints were imbued with the gesture and energy of his pastels. This style of etching was both popular and easily produced, which led to meteoric success and eventually to his friendship with Coco Chanel, the fashion designer. It was under Helleu's guidance that Chanel chose beige as her signature color, and eventually Helleu's son and grandson would go on to be artistic directors for the Chanel brand.
Like many of the artists in this collection, George Bellows is considered one of the more prestigous artists of his time. In the year 1904, Bellows left his academic and athletic success at Ohio State to study art in New York City under Robert Henri. His time there associated him with the American Realist movement and the Ashcan School, which encouraged the painting of all aspects of contemporary American society. His work ranges from scenes of common life in New York City to vividly captured scenes of boxing matches.
The piece in our collection dates back to 1916, during Bellows' brief years as a contributor to a socialist journal called The Masses, which was eventually censored and banned from being shipped by mail after the passing of the Espionage Act in 1917. The print itself is a scene of an evening out in New York City rendered with the dramatic sense of lighting that is so indicative of Bellows' style. The way faces and bodies seem to appear out of dark corners and crowded spaces gives the viewer a sense of what life was like during the beginning of the 20th century in the Big Apple.
Louis Orr was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1879. His father, uncle, and grandfather were all printmakers and discouraged him from the artistic professions, but despite their pleas he travelled to France at the age of 27 to study art and to work in the studio of J.P. Laurens. By the 1920's Orr was one of the most in demand artists of his time, both in Europe and America, for his architectural prints. This beautiful print of the U.S. Capitol was made in the height of his career and is a testament to the precise talent he possessed.