Renée Perle was a fashion model. She was a Romanian-Jewish girl who moved to Paris for her passion. Her descendants quietly auctioned 340 photos documenting her relationship with famous French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Renée had previously held onto them for nearly 50 years up until her death. Almost four decades after her death, Renée Perle’s halo of magic continues to inspire prominent artists and designers. She has left us eternally inspired by her finger-waved hair, perfectly painted cupid’s bow lips, long neck, and fashion sense that seems shockingly ahead of her time.
Renee lived with Lartigue as his girlfriend after meeting her in 1929. Some of his best photographs were inspired by her spectacular beauty. Her sensual figure, effortless confidence, and distinctive style made her the quintessential muse. Several of Renee’s quaint and naive self-portraits can be seen in some Lartigue photos. Renee’s paintings do not display much mastery of artistic technique, but they have a strange fascination, perhaps because they demonstrate a manic compulsion on her part to paint her face repeatedly. Despite many efforts, the Foundation has not been able to locate a specimen of one of these. Renee’s stepdaughter has an oil portrait of her stepmother, but everything else, which Renee carefully preserved, was dispersed in two famous Paris sales by Tajan in 2000 and 2001.
Despite their intense romance, Perle was forever a puzzle to her lover. Lartigue may have been the era’s best documentarian, but Perle remains its most alluring ambassador. His most definitive work was inspired by her wide-brimmed hats, daringly modern t-shirts, seductive spirit, and ease in front of the camera. e continues to inspire fashion editorials and designer collections and is widely regarded as an icon of style.
She is tender, devoted, and passionate. And above all, she is in love. She is always making scenes. Is it jealousy, or is it madness? Maybe it is the need to be assaulted, to be made unhappy and to cry – all for the sake of reconciliation? I am far too down-to-earth; too much of a spectator and too bad an actor to fall into…the kind of game Renée wishes me to play.
Perle is relaxed, playful, charming, and reflective in these intimate photographs. She stares straight into the soul of the man behind the lens. Both Lartigue and his camera have captivated her. The auction did not include journals or diaries, and Perle never lived to tell her own story. Renée Perle and Jacques-Henri Lartigue ended their great romance with a lyrical meditation on an unforgettable woman