Henrietta Moraes (1931-1999)
Paintings of this artists’ model and memoirist are worth millions.
Henrietta Moraes lived an unusual and colourful life. She was an artists’ muse, caretaker for an Irish stately home, imprisoned after an unsuccessful stint as a cat burglar, worked for singer Marianne Faithfull, and lived in a horse-drawn caravan as part of a group of New Age travellers.
Henrietta was born in Simla, where her father was stationed in the Indian Air Force. When he left the family, Henrietta was taken to England and brought up by her strict and bullying grandmother.
She attended secretarial college, but worked instead as an artists' model at several London art schools. This led to becoming an inspirational muse for some notable artists during the 1950s and 1960s, including Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. Her beauty, charm and highly volatile personality captivated Bacon in particular, who painted her at least 16 times.
Henrietta married three times, and had two children, during this period. She separated from her third husband, Indian poet Dom Moraes, in the mid-sixties. The final year of her life was spent with the artist Maggi Hambling, for whom she once again became a muse.
For many years, Henrietta struggled with drugs and alcohol. She worked towards sobriety later in life, writing her memoirs as part of her recovery. But her chaotic lifestyle left her impoverished and unwell. Henrietta died aged 67, leaving little behind except her much loved dachshund dog Max, which she bequeathed to Maggi.