These two French postcards are unused, each produced as part of the Collection de l'Art Decoratif, featuring portraits by Clémentine Hélène Dufau and Robert Besnard. Printed on a thin card stock, with a divided back, these cards are likely circa 1904-1914. I'm not certain but I can't help but wonder if these weren't giveaways tucked inside L’Art Décoratif magazine. There are light specks inherent to the printing. Lightest signs of age around the corners. Overall, for their age, these cards are in very good antique condition. Colors rich and vivid.
Robert Besnard's story is bittersweet and after you hear it, I think you'll appreciate the portrait of this anonymous woman all the more. In her elegant lavender gown with the black shoulder straps, rose corsage at her breast and faithful canine companion at her lap, this woman with dark hair exudes that Parisian confidence women the world over are jealous of. Robert Besnard was born in London in 1881 where his parents lived for three years while his father, Albert, was exhibiting his paintings at the Royal Academy of London. Robert learned how to paint under the tutelage of his father but his career was cut short by World War I. His family thought he had been taken as a prisoner of war and it wasn't until 1915 that they learned he had been killed in battle in 1914. He left behind an American wife and 3 children. He was only 33 years old. Some of his works go up for auction after his untimely death but little is known about most of his pieces. Once again, postcards help preserve some history and art that would have been completely lost.
"Wife and Trinkets" by Clémentine Hélène Dufau is also known as "Admiring a Vase" and the original was sold by Sotheby's in 2006. Mlle. Dufau (1869 – 1937) was an award-winning French artist who was a painter, decorator and illustrator. Her self portrait, wearing a long blue gown, hangs at the Musee D'Orsay. Coincidence or not, the 'femme' in this portrait is also dressed in blue. Christie's auctioned one of her original paintings for just under $3,000 dollars in 2013. Dufau also designed advertising posters and had a hand in decorating the Sorbonne.