Artists have a particular tendency towards finding beauty and fascination in things, or people, that others may not. Because of this, artists can often find themselves so captivated by the look, energy or style of a certain person they provide constant inspiration for their work over long periods of time, quickly becoming their ‘muse’. In this post we decided to highlight some of these muses that inspired great artists, digging deeper into the people behind the painting.

Marie-Thérèse Walter – Pablo Picasso

French model, Marie-Thérèse Walter first met Pablo Picasso in 1927 when she was 17 years old and the artist was 45. Renowned for his love of women, Picasso was already married to Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina at the time (and eventually left Marie in around 1940 for surrealist photographer, Dora Maar.) However, throughout their relationship she posed for many of his paintings including Girl before a mirrorThe Dream and Women in Hat and Fur Collar.

Emile Louise Flöge – Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt found inspiration in Emile Louise Flöge, a forward-thinking fashion designer from Vienna. After learning her trade as a seamstress and later a working at her sisters dressmaking school, Emile opened a couture fashion salon with her sister after 1904. Emille was a regular in the Vienne bohemian social circles where she became friends with Gustav. However, her sister Helene married Ernst Klmit, Gustav’s brother in 1881, only to be followed by his death a year later when Gustav became Helene’s guardian. After regular visits to Emile’s parents house the companionship between the artist and Emile formed. She soon became the subject or much of his work, and experts believe that The Kiss portrays the love between the couple.

Leigh Bowery and Sue Tilly – Lucian Freud

An artist does not always stick to one muse throughout their working life, and Lucian had two notable inspirations during his career.

First was Leigh Bowery, an Australian performance artist, designer and club promoter. He met the artist in 1988 when Lucian visited Leigh’s nightclub, Taboo. Lucian was fascinated by the outlandish appearance of Leigh and the self-awareness involved when he ‘edited’ his appearance. The performance artist was the subject for a series of full-length portraits, stripping back his makeup to reveal the personality inside. In 2008, Leigh Bowery led Lucian to another inspirational character when he introduced her to his friend and biographer, Sue Tilley. As well as being responsible for Leigh’s legacy ‘Big Sue’, as he named her, worked as a Job Centre supervisor, which soon led to the portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, recently selling for £17.2million.

Many artists have a muse – have you noticed any familiar faces cropping up in our online art gallery?

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