The Woman Behind the Painting…Ellen Andrée

A free-spirit of the arts and in life…

A free-spirit is someone who ignores the restraints of society, someone who acts based on his or her own fascinating mixture of ideas, emotions, and goals. This person is a person of independence, a person who is unafraid of the moral codes of daily existence. Conventions and judgments do not travel into the mind and soul–confining rules do not apply. A free-spirit is someone who pursues personal interests. The individual is not tied down to custom; rather, the individual believes in the freedom to do what is desired in life.

Ellen Andrée was a popular model and actress during the late 1800s. She was a talented, independent woman who was always herself, a woman who was not afraid to speak her mind, to act as her own person–to be her natural self. Born as Hélène Andrée, Ellen Andrée changed her name in the beginning of her life. Supposed to be a teacher, Ellen Andrée threw away this option to pursue her true interests and passions. She did not wish to be confined to the restrictive gender norms set out before her. She did not want to live the typical life pushed towards her direction. She had no desire to do something she did not wish to do. Andrée decided to gravitate and embrace her real loves in life, her love for strength, her love for theater, her love for the arts.

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Starting at a young age, Andrée interacted with many of the Impressionist artists of the time. She acted in comical vaudeville productions. She became a pantomime actress in the Folies Bergère. She was a significant actress in André Antoine’s naturalist theater. Ellen Andrée was supposed to be someone else in life–someone who hopelessly carried on an unwanted existence of gender constriction. However, Ellen Andrée did not accept this future planned for her. She lived her life through her own recognized free-will and natural charm. She lived her life through her wittiness and spoken actions and words. She lived her life based on her own desires. She lived her life as a free-spirit.

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Before pursuing her acting career, Ellen Andrée was a model for a wide range of Impressionist painters. She posed for Manet, Renoir, Degas, Henri Gervex, and more. The paintings of her reveal her powerful spirit and delightful strength. They reveal her true modern qualities. Andrée was a woman who was not afraid to pose provocatively. She was not nervous to live a life of artistic wonder and pursuit. These artistic pieces capture her individuality, her contemporary state of mind.

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In this beautiful work entitled La Parisienne by Édouard Manet, Ellen Andrée stands with a purpose, with a power that is very much recognizable. She stands as the modern woman of Paris and of everyday society. In an exquisite black day dress, Andrée is the embodiment of dauntlessness and breathtaking determination. The dark, magnificent gown accentuates her form of vitality and her mind and actions of vivacity. In this outfit, with the bold blackened shaped hat, with the sparkling, grand necklace, with the proud, white-trimmed high-neck, with the cascading ruffles on view for all to see, Ellen Andrée radiates–her free-spirited artistic fearlessness speaks out. The model, the actress, rises to the surface.

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Ellen Andrée’s internal and external beauty is captured magically in this stunning Renoir portrait. Wearing a light, rosy gown accented with a trail of floral details that travel down the front, Andrée’s wonderful presence is made clear. In this shimmering garment of elegance, with a slight smile gracing her lively, blushed face, Ellen Andrée sits with a purpose, with knowledge of who she is and what she can achieve in the world. What she wears only heightens her confidence and natural poise. She recognizes her potential. She embraces her artistic present and the future she wishes to make for herself. She knows who she is.

…and her name was Ellen Andrée.

A Roundup of the Streets

*My apologies for the delay (my schedule has been very busy). Here is a roundup of my favorite street style looks from New York, London, Milan, and Paris Fashion Week…Expect a longer post later this week!*

The Streets of New York…

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The Streets of London…

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The Streets of Milan…

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The Streets of Paris…

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Photo Credits: Vogue

Photographer: Phil Oh