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April 29, 2016

30 Fascinating Portraits of the "Beauty Queen" Cléo de Mérode From Between the 1890s and 1900s

Born in an aristocratic family, Cléo de Mérode pursues an artistic path and trains at the dance school of the Opéra de Paris while she soon appears on various Parisian stages where her legendary beauty seduces many famous figures such as the King of Belgium, turning her into a seductive courtesan.

Posing for many photographers who diffuse her image worldwide, in newspapers and postcards, she is elected Beauty Queen in 1896 among various celebrities. The same year, she enhances her fame when a white marble sculpture, La Danseuse, by Alexandre Falguière, is said to have been moulded on her body; facing a public scandal, she claims she only lent her features to the sculpture's face.

During the Belle Epoque, two romantic feminine figures fascinated: the devil and the angel. Cléo de Mérode incarnated the angelic heroine who with her delicate features, posed innocently for holy-like pictures that made her look like a virginal Eve. Inspiring such artists as Edgar Degas and Paul Klee, the dancer defended her immaculate reputation and diffused a mysterious, romantic and melancholic aura that far from the usual 1900s beauty ideals, evoked more of a Renaissance-like aesthetic.

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