An Affair with Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy

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An Affair with Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy

Romantic Illusions

James Philip Head, Pamela Almand


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Fame, fortune, and beautiful models-Howard Chandler Christy had them all.

Christy was the most famous American painter of the Jazz Age, a time when an elite brotherhood of New York artists dominated the publishing world. Christy had eclipsed all of them with his "Christy Girl," an idealized woman who redefined beauty, influenced fashion, and inspired generations of women. Illustrated in popular magazines, bestselling novels, and top-ranked newspapers, the "Christy Girl" transformed the artist into a household name.

In An Affair with Beauty, Christy once again comes to life through the eyes of Nancy Palmer Christy, his wife and former model, as she recounts her first Christmas with Howard and his family at his Ohio mansion in 1912.

She tells of Howard Christy's early years studying art in near poverty in New York City and his sudden ascent to stardom as the top pupil of William Merritt Chase, the premier portrait painter in America. She describes his daring experiences with Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War in Cuba and his brush with death, no less than three times. The effects of the war profoundly transformed Howard, inspiring him to create his vision of beauty, the "Christy Girl," which catapulted him to stardom.

When romance blossomed between artist and model, Howard was slow to seek a divorce from his estranged wife, Maebelle, jeopardizing Nancy's desires and compelling her to uncover his scandalous past. As World War I broke out, Howard returned to New York City, which compelled Nancy to risk everything to reveal her true feelings for him.