portrait de la première garçonne
“I sat for Picasso. Man Ray photographed me and the portrait hangs at an exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. Who am I? Laurencin, Lartigue, Domergue, Dufy, Kisling, Picabia, and Foujita all asked me to sit for them. Tamara de Lempicka—Madonna collects her work–painted me, too. They captured me smiling or obscured in gilt or just plain, concealing nothing. Nearly 200 painters made representations of me. Forty-seven of them are hanging in one museum along with some sculptures.
Still a mystery? I wrote four novels: Térésine (1939), Fil d’or (1940), Le Fortuné de l’Amphitrite (1941), and La vie commence au large (1944). I acted in movies; La Garçonne was the most famous. Edith Piaf made her film debut in it. I sang in cabarets and recorded music, too, which is still available. In Paris I opened my own cabaret, La Vie Parisienne. It became très chic in its day and was very expensive. Who am I?”
After a short stroll up the hill from the train station at Cagnes-sur-Mer to the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes, the flâneur encounters the Chateau Grimaldi and its stone tower. Initially built as a fortress at the beginning of the 14th century, turned into a stately home in the 1600’s, abandoned during the French Revolution, today it opens its doors as a museum that includes a room devoted entirely to portraits of the famous model and cabaret singer Suzy Solidor.
Bypassing for the moment the collections in the Chateau Grimaldi of the Musée ethnographique de l’olivier (Ethnographic Museum) and the Musée d’Art moderne Méditerranean (Mediterranean Museum of Modern Art), step into the center of the room showcasing the Donation Solidor (Solidor Collection). (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
After looking around, pick a spot and walk to it and look more closely at some of the paintings. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
I mentioned that she sang and recorded a number of songs. Spend a few minutes listening to her music. The video is of her singing “Escale,” one of her most popular songs. If you have more time, you can listen to 41 minutes of her music in the second video. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)