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The fashionably dressed young woman in this photograph was born Juliette Lebeau in Laon, Picardyin 1840. This portrait is part of a framed triptych of photographs and includes another image of the young woman and a third of her accompanied by an older couple, possibly her parents.
Mademoiselle Juliette Lebeau married Francisco Lopez, with whom she had two children. In 1868, Lopez departed France for Brazil, abandoning his young family inParis.
Four years later, in 1872, as Madame Rastoul, Juliette arrived in the penal colony of New Caledonia aboard the ship Fenelon. She was the companion of Dr Rastoul, who had been transported for his activities in the Paris Commune of 1871.
In 1874, Mme Rastoul and her two children were released fromNew Caledonia and came to Sydney. The Sands Directory of 1879 lists her as Madame L. Rastoul,150 Victoria Street, Professor of French and, in the following year, as a Professor of Languages.
Mme Rastoul married the artist and former Communard, Lucien Henry, in 1880. Henry, Chef de Legion of the 14th arrondissement during the Commune, had come to Sydney from New Caledonia following the amnesty granted to the Communards imprisoned there in June, 1879.
Lucien Henry became and influential artist and teacher in Sydney, best-known for advocating the use of Australian motifs in decorative arts and design. Madame Juliette Henry founded the Cercle Litteraire Française, (French Literary Circle), a group dedicated to the study of French literature and culture which convened at Tattersall’s chambers in Hunter Street, Sydney. The couple divorced 1896.
Juliette Henry died in 1898. The inscription on her headstone in Waverley cemetery reads:
As an affectionate tribute to her memory by her friends and members of the Cercle Littèraire Française.
En avançant dans notre obscur voyage, du doux passé l’horizon est plus beau. En deux moieties notre ame se partage et las meilleure apartient au tombeau. Lamartine
(While going forward on our dark journey, the view of the sweet past is more beautiful. Our soul is divided in two halves and the best half belongs to the grave.)
The Powerhouse Museum holds other photographs of Madame Henry, some of which have been posted previously on Photo of the Day. The museum also has the largest collection of Lucien Henry’s work. In 2001 the museum held an exhibition entitled, Visions of a Republic: the work of Lucien Henry. Paris,Noumea, Sydney.
Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian
Ref: Visions of a republic: the work of Lucien Henry, Paris, Noumea, Sydney. Ed. Ann Stephen, Powerhouse Publishing, 2001
Photographer unknown, 99/119/2-6
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