The Portraits

Staff member working in collections and putting a painting away

Helena Rubinstein

Artist
Roberto Montenegro, 1887 - 1968
Sitter
Helena Rubinstein, 25 Dec 1870 - 1 Apr 1965
Date
1941
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 80 x 70.7cm (31 1/2 x 27 13/16")
Frame: 90.3 x 80.2 x 6cm (35 9/16 x 31 9/16 x 2 3/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
NPG.2011.141
Exhibition Label
Born Krakow, Poland
Helena Rubinstein triumphed in a male-dominated business world, working methodically toward her goals. She first made her reputation through the specialized treatments she offered to women at her exclusive salons, but she amassed her fortune in the 1920s by selling mass-produced cosmetics internationally. Her legendary career paved the way for other entrepreneurial women. Mexican artist Roberto Montenegro here captures her dynamic personality and dramatic flair. He depicts Rubinstein wearing a specially designed necklace made by William Spratling, who created a center for Mexican jewelry in Taxco during the 1930s. Rubinstein wrote in her autobiography, “Although I no longer need the added courage that handsome jewelry once gave me (it was not easy being a hard-working woman in a man’s world many years ago), I am aware that the wearing of exotic jewelry has become . . . a mark of my identity.”
Provenance
The sitter; her foundation; (Sotheby’s), New York; purchased NPG 2011
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
20th Century Americans: 1900-1930 (re-installation 2012)
On View
NPG, South Gallery 322
Place
México