From the latter half of the 19th century, European painters discovered Japanese art, giving rise to a movement known as “Japonism.” In the realm of decorative art, this style favored natural colors and repetitive motifs with clean lines.
This decoration can be found in the Margot and Cléo rooms.
Porcelain complexion, dark hair, lanky figure, and something angelic in her gaze that makes her unique, miles away from the scandalous women of her time: more for her natural beauty than for her talent as a dancer, “Cléo” -nickname of Cléopâtre-Diane de Mérode, illegitimate child of a Belgian baroness and an Austrian aristocrat- quickly becomes the darling of Parisian high society. The former dancer from the Opera ballet is immortalized by the famous photographer Nadar, poses for numerous painters, Degas, Forain, Toulouse-Lautrec, and sculptors: in 1896, at the Salon des artistes français, Falguière exhibits a life-size statue supposedly molded on her naked body. She claims to have only posed for the bust…
All her life, Cléo refutes her reputation as a demi-mondaine, as well as the fact of having been the mistress of Leopold II of Belgium, one of her most ardent admirers.