Jane POUPELET (1874 - 1932)
Self-portrait or Head of a Woman at her Toilette, 1912

Terra cotta
Signed on the back of the neck: J. Poupelet
H: 12, W: 8.6, D: 11 cm

French Private Collection


Atelier Jean-Emile Laboureur (1877-1943)


Rivière, A., Jane Poupelet 1874-1932 “La beauté dans la simplicité” (Beauty in Simplicity), Paris, Editions Gallimard, 2005, cat. 45


Third Quinquennial Exhibition of the Prize of the Salon and Grantees of Travel, 1912, Paris, Grand Palais, #8.


Throughout her entire career, Jane Poupelet focused on animals and female nudes. The latter are known for their "beautiful, disciplined rhythms," and while working on them, or shortly thereafter, Poupelet set some of their heads aside in order to modify them later. Then, she would change their position, slightly altering their axis, by simple marcottage , following a tradition well-established in the studios of Carrier-Belleuse and Rodin. Through this operation, she would give them a life of their own as finished works, which she executed in bronze or terra cotta. For instance, the Head of a Woman, Leaning Over is that of the standing bather from the Group of Two Bathers (1906-1908), and the Head Mirrored in the Water is that of the Woman Mirrored in the Water (1909-1914). Jane made wood pedestals for the terra cotta ones herself, always following the same model. Self-portrait or Head of a Woman at her Toilette is taken from Woman at her Toilette (1907-1910). The figure is distinguished by her lowered gaze, which is focused on the movement of her hand and her foot, giving her eyes a half-closed look. Although The 2005 catalogue mentions only a single terra cotta of Head of a Woman at her Toilette, in fact, three terra cottas are known today: the one at the Galerie Malaquais and two others in private collections. Jane Poupelet's family considers the Head to be a self-portrait, hence its double title. And in fact, when you compare the Head of a Woman at her Toilette with the marble portrait that Lucien Schnegg did of her in 1897 as well as with photographs of the artist, there is a distinct similarity in the facial features; they all share the same slightly protruding brow, fine, straight nose, and precisely drawn, full-lipped, lightly smiling mouth. Clearly influenced by the Bande à Schnegg, which aspired to an Hellenic calm and well-balanced volumes, Jane developed a stylized treatment for her face. The harmonious, regular features give her a serene and timeless look, and it shows no apparent emotion, making it reminiscent of the small terra cotta votive heads of Greek and Etruscan antiquity. Her portrait also has a decorative element achieved through the long symmetrical curves of the eyebrows and the small regular undulations of the hair on her forehead and temples.