Portraits of Colette by Masters of Photography
Vintage portraits of the French author Colette are currently on view in New York. They were made by the great photojournalists of her era including Irving Penn, Edward Steichen, Henri Cartier- Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller and others.
The images range from the young Colette gazing coquettishly into the camera, to an elderly grande dame engaging the viewer with a sage glower. In one image, she sits in the garden at the Palais Royale with Jean Cocteau, where they both lived for many years, united by their long friendship and lifelong adoration of publicity.
The collection was assembled by the late Mary Lee Fletcher, an independent woman who lived her life in the fashion world as Executive Vice President of Christian Dior-New York. Her work frequently brought her to France, and Parisian bohemia in the years between the wars were of particular interest to her. She was undoubtedly drawn to Colette by her free spirit and literary accomplishments. The portraits of Colette collected over several decades were prominently displayed in her Beekman Place apartment.
We are reminded that Colette was the ultimate literary celebrity of her time in the way that only the French can celebrate their intellectual heroes. Colette has recently regained the public eye through the release of the eponymous acclaimed biopic starring Keira Knightley.