Beauty has exercised the minds, perceptions and talents of artists throughout history, an exercise bedevilled by changing fashions in beauty and individual responses to its manifestations. The years which straddled the end of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth were immensely active in inventiveness, in scientific pursuits, in questioning the role of women in the shifting patterns of social interaction. Those years have entered history as the "Belle Epoque," a term implying "The Beautiful Era."
Jean-Jaques Tissot (1836-1902) and Paul César Helleu (1959-1927) devoted much of their lives to the pursuit of beauty, though each approached it with his own indvidual obsessions. Tissot was fascinated by clothing, the texture, shape and fall of fabrics and the details of settings. Helleu employed the simplest of lines to capture human sentiments: fleeting expressions from playfulness to challenge, from concentration to sleep. This exhibition explores the intimate preoccupations of these two artists through 100 superb drawings and prints selected from private collections in Europe.