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July 21, 2022

Stunning Black and White Portraits of Renée Perle, the Forgotten Muse of Jacques-Henri Lartigue

When the legendary French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue met Renée Perle while strolling the streets of Paris in 1930, he fell in love instantly. Tall, chic and hiding coquettishly under a wide elegant hat, he nicknamed her the ‘parasol’. 


Together they embarked on what Lartigue remembers as an “eternal vacation”, a dreamlike two-year holiday in the South of France, where he documented her riviera style and endlessly photogenic form. She became his Mona Lisa, but just like Da Vinci’s muse, little is known about Renée. After the couple’s affair ended in 1932, it’s as if she vanished from the world, having only existed in that beautiful but brief snapshot of time through the lens of her lost lover…

Renée came from a Romanian-Jewish background. After arriving in Paris, she started out as a model in Paris for the French couturier, Doeuillet. She appears to have escaped the Nazi invasion of World War II, later married, and according to records, passed away in 1977 in the South of France. In the year 2000, her descendants quietly released 340 unseen photographs documenting her relationship with Lartigue for auction. Renée had preciously held onto them for nearly 50 years up until her death.

About their affair, Lartigue wrote: “Renée! She is tender, devoted, passionate. And above all she is in love. She is always making scenes. Is it jealousy, or is it madness? Maybe it is the need to be assaulted, to be made unhappy and to cry – all for the sake of reconciliation? I am far too down-to-earth; too much of a spectator and too bad an actor to fall into…the kind of game Renée wishes me to play.”





















(via MessyNessyChic)




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