Jacques-Émile Blanche | portraits

Jacques-Émile Blanche rivalled Giovanni Boldini as the great portraitist of the Belle Époque. Among the artists, writers and other notables immortalised in his canvasses are a surprisingly maladroit young Jean Cocteau, a posthumous Comtesse de Castiglione (an image which unfortunately I could only find in a washed out, low-res version) and a deathly pale Marcel Proust rehearsing for his own afterlife. Many of these portraits are currently on display in an exhibition with the Proustian title Du côté de chez Jacques-Émile Blanche at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.

Aubrey Beardsley

Anna de Noailles

Thomas Hardy

Percy Grainger

Vaslav Nijinsky

Maurice Barrès

Marcel Proust

Comtesse de Castiglione

Jean Cocteau

Olga Caracciolo (later Olga de Meyer)

Further reading
Nazimova’s secret garden, Places: Under the Hill (Aubrey Beardsley)
Hardy survivor (Thomas Hardy)
A Percy Grainger glossary
Paul and Paulette, A Lorrain special, part 2 (Marcel Proust)
The countess in the afterlife, The countess in the cinema, A Casati family tree, Places: Place Vendôme, Dress-down Friday: Ganna Walska, Because… (Comtesse de Castiglione)
Death becomes her, World Famous Aerial Queen, Phantom of the empire, Berenice Abbott | portraits, Dress-down Friday: Barbette, Circles: Ludwig II/Sissi (Jean Cocteau)



  1. Beautiful portraits. I enjoy walking past the Proust one in the Paris subway each day. 🙂

  2. Linda Hollander

    OMG! These are fantastic…all of these people figure in my book and some of these portraits I’ve never seen…I thought I was a LITTLE more on top of it! I love the portrait of Barres…I know you know this, but…long affair with Anna de N….speaking of whom, this is the worst of the lot in terms of what she really looked like, unless it was done in the late 20s or early 30s. She and Winnie wer extremely close; Anna and her sister Helene lived around the corner from Winnie in a gorgeous building designed by Hector Guimard. One of the MOST beautiful buildings in Paris.

    Olga de Meyer…long affair with Winnie, before during her marriage to Adolph (?I think) de Meyer.

    Incredible pic of Cocteau…we so often see him in his “famous” guise, with the sticky up hair and all…

    James I LOVE these pictures and now I want to come to Paris to see the exhibit…that Berges-St Laurent does the most amazing exhibits!

    Thank you, thank you, once again you have made my day!!


  3. Nelson devonshire

    Thank you for sharing the Jacques-Emile Blanche portraits in today’s post…can’t. Decide between Nijinsky, Proust or Cocteau as my favorite

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  9. Reblogged this on zensnoopy and commented:
    Oh Nijinsky! And now the young man Jean Cocteau with his charming doggie

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