Misia Natanson (1872–1950), a genuine fin-de-siècle muse, appeared in many prints, drawings, and paintings. She was also immortalised in poetry, theatre, music and literature. This social queen of Paris appeared in posters by Pierre Bonnard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, while Marcel Proust used her as inspiration for several characters of his novel.
The Nabi House
As the wife of Thadée Natanson, one of the founders of the avant-garde magazine La Revue blanche, Misia was at the epicentre of cultural life in the capital.
The Natansons received progressive artists, writers, and musicians associated with the magazine at their lavishly decorated apartment. Art by the Nabis was displayed everywhere, much of which was commissioned by the wealthy young couple themselves.
Misia enchanted her guests with her poise, exotic features, extravagant make-up, and stylish dress, as well as her enthusiastic piano-playing.
‘It was the thing to be in love with Misia,’ her biographer wrote. Many artists were indeed besotted with her, including Edouard Vuillard, who was able to observe, depict, and desire, but never possess her.
Misia continued to inspire major artists with her beauty and capricious personality well into the twentieth century.
Misia Sert, Misia, Paris, 1952
Arthur Gold, Robert Fizdale. Misia. The Life of Misia Sert, New York, 1980
Isabelle Cahn et al., Misia, reine de Paris, tent.cat., Paris (Musée d'Orsay & Musée Bonnard), 2012