Helena Rubinstein

Paul César Helleuc. 1908

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein built her fortune in cosmetics, opening her first shop in Melbourne, Australia, in 1902. The quick growth of her business inspired her to open salons around the world, including London, Paris, and New York City. She decorated the salons as a mix of public and private spaces, with modern art and furnishings from her own vast art collections. Her African sculpture collection was one of the largest privately held collections, and she also commissioned more than twenty portraits of herself.
Rubinstein’s successful marketing of her products’ image and highlighting of celebrity clientele created cachet for her brand. She projected the appearance of a successful, elegant, modern, and refined hostess. A variation of this etching by Paul César Helleu was used in advertisements for her beauty salons and products. Helleu created this portrait in a typically 1920s style, with the feathered embellishment and bobbed hair.

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  • Title: Helena Rubinstein
  • Creator: Paul César Helleu
  • Date Created: c. 1908
  • Physical Dimensions: w53.9 x h71 cm (Sheet)
  • Type: Colored etching on paper
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Abraham and Virginia Weiss Charitable Trust, Amy and Marc Meadows, in honor of Wendy Wick Reaves
  • Classification: Print