Arlette Ryan, Portrait For A Friend

Arlette Ryan, Portrait For A Friend

This captivating portrait by French artist Arlette Ryan née Warrain (1892-1987) depicts a young lady wearing an off-the-shoulder evening dress. With a stance akin to fashion modelling, she carries an elegant air of classical beauty.

Arlette Ryan (1892-1987) was a fascinating figure who emerged from the buzz of Parisian high society. From an early age, she was thrust into glamorous circles as her parents were well-connected socialites. Several of the more fashionable artists painted her including Marcel Baschet (1862-1941) and Paul César Helleu (1859-1927). Helleu was, in turn, an associate of the luminary John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and one can only imagine the parties.

Ryan’s world was electric. Fashion, glitz and fine cocktails. In 1920, she married a wealthy American businessman, John Ryan, and moved to the USA where the story sadly took a turn for the worse, as John died just a few years into their marriage. How did she feel at this juncture? All set for family life across the Atlantic and then thrust into early widowhood.

It seems that art became her salvation as by the 1930s, she was exhibiting her own work back in France. Her portraits were a strength and influenced by the high society painters she knew so well. Here we see her channelling the allure of a Marcel Baschet but with a softer touch that captures a gentler spirit. She seems to portray the fashion yet also the human characteristics under the attire. In 1941, she won a silver medal at the Paris Salon. Quite an achievement for a late starter.

This portrait is inscribed on the reverse and dedicated to a friend. We discovered it in Sweden.

Signed, dated, framed and glazed.

Learn more about Arlette Ryan in our directory.

Medium: Pastel on paper
Overall size: 25” x 29½” / 63cm x 75cm
Year of creation: 1947
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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