Friday, January 30, 2015

Model & Muse - Misia Godebska Natanson Sert 1872-1950


Misia Godebska Sert (1872-1950) became a muse in Paris from an early age and maintained her influence for over 50 years.  Although she played the piano, she did not directly create anything; but she was an inspiration for a wide variety of other artists.

Photo by Jean Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson

It is said that early in her life, the beautiful Misia took husbands rather than lovers & became a rich woman.

Photo by Jean Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson

Admirers who couldn’t paint wrote poems & music dedicated to her.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) in His Studio with Misia Natanson

Misia became muse to Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Vuillard, Renoir, Diaghilev, Cocteau, & Vallaton.

Photo by Jean Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) Misia and Thadee Natanson

Masia Zofia Olga Zenajda Godebska was born on 30 March 1872 to Sophie Servais & Cyprien Godebski.

Photo by Jean Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1897

She was born in Russia just outside of St. Petersburg, where her father, a sculptor, was engaged in reconstruction of the palace.

Photo by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson et Edwards assis sur le pont 1906

Her mother died shortly after giving birth to her.

Jean Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940) and Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1899

The motherless baby was called Misia, a Polish diminutive of the name Maria.

Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

She lived with her maternal grandmother & other relatives as a child, while her father was busy with a new wife.

Photo by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) Mme Eugène Bonnard, Misia, et Ida Godebska en 1900

As a child, Misia was a talented pianist & pupil of Gabriël Fauré, who called her a prodigy.

Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

When she was 8, she joined her father and stepmother in Paris in 1880.  Even before she reached Paris, she was accustomed to associating with artists & musicians. When she was only seven, Misia sat on the lap of the great Liszt at the home of her grandmother near Brussels & played him a Beethoven bagatelle. "Ah, if only 1 could still play like that." the old man sighed.

Misia ran away from her harsh step-mother (a marquise, a dipso-maniac, whose breakfast included bread soaked in chartreuse) at the age of 12, and Faure, her early teacher & a great composer, helped her to set up as a music teacher.

When she was 14, the poet Mallarme wrote poems for her on her fan, and Debussy played to her from the score of "Pelleas and Melisande" on which he was working.

At 15, Ibsen took her to a dress rehearsal of his masterpiece "The Master Builder."

Photo by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert 1906

In 1893, she married Tadeusz Natanson, a Polish émigré to Paris, a politician & journalist, when she was 21, although later she lied about her age & claimed to have been married at 15.

Coco Chanel and Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

The newlyweds enjoyed access to the highest creative circles in Paris. Artists visited their home & were commissioned to create art for it.

Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

The high cost of entertaining and enjoying the high life took its toll.

Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

When her husband, editor of La Revue blanche magazine, was on the brink of bankruptcy, the newspaper magnate Alfred Edwards saved him, on condition that he surrender his wife to him.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson

Misia began living with Alfred Edwards in 1903. She lived with Edwards, until he fell in love with another woman.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert 1900

Around that time she started hosting a more formal literary-artistic salon in Paris.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1895

She acquired considerable influence in Parisian musical & artistic circles.

Félix Vallotton. (1865 - 1925). Misia at Her Dressing Table 1898

Stéphane Mallarmé, Claude Debussy, as well as painters such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Vuillard, Félix Vallotton, and Pierre Bonnard were among her guests.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1910

She was a confidante of Pablo Picasso & Jean Cocteau.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert

She became an early patron of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Model Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1895

Misia's third marriage was to the Spanish painter Jose Maria Sert (1876-1945).

Félix Vallotton. (1865 - 1925). Misa a son bureau

She loved Sert so much, that she let him leave her; when he fell in love with another woman, Roussadana Mdivani.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1897

When the “other woman” died, Sert returned to Misia.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson Sert 1904

Misia was painted many times by her artist friends.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Model Madame Misia Godebska Natanson

She became close friends with designer Coco Chanel.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) Madame Misia Godebska Natanson 1897

Proust immortalized her in 'Remembrance of Things Past' as his Princess Yourbeletieff. Ravel dedicated "Le Cygne" (The Swan) in Histoires naturelles, & La Valse (The Waltz) to her. To gain access to the Ballets Russes, a young Jean Cocteau became her protege and made her the heroine Princess de Bormes in his novel Thomas l'imposteur.  In the end, Misia seems to survive only in the work of others.


3 comments:

  1. What an amazing life.... Even though she didn't "create much" herself!

    Tessa~
    "Here there be musing" blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Ravel dedicated ........ La Valse (The Waltz) to her."

    Imagine that... How interesting.

    Tessa~

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sert didn't come back to her after "the other woman died". She was left alone and got drug addict. But loved him till her death. Sert died much earlier tham Misia, he fell off the stairs while painting the murals in a church.

    ReplyDelete