Adrienne Fidelin, The Lost Muse

August 11, 2023 | Dancy Mason

Adrienne Fidelin, The Lost Muse

Adrienne Fidelin, The Hidden Muse

Adrienne “Ady” Fidelin cut a striking figure, whether it was in a candid shot or on the cover of a magazine. Thanks in part to her close affiliation with surrealist artist circles—she had a relationship with Man Ray and was friends with Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar—Fidelin’s image spread far and wide during the early 20th century. But history still tried to erase her.

Humble Beginnings

Born in Guadeloupe in 1915, Fidelin eventually emigrated to Paris. She soon met Man Ray and his Bohemian circle, and started dating the artist despite being 25 years his junior. Besides dancing and occasionally acting, Fidelin quickly began posing for Man Ray and is identifiable in many of his works. Yet her romantic life is hardly the limit of her career.

Adrienne Fidelin PhotoGala G, Flickr

On September 15,1937, she appeared in a spread in Harper’s Bazaar, likely the first time a Black model was in a mainstream American magazine. Upbeat and self-assured, when Fidelin first met Picasso, she reportedly gave him a languid hug and then said, “I hear you are quite a good painter.” Indeed, historians very recently named her as the subject of Picasso’s “Femme Assise sur Fond Jaune et Rose, II,” indicating that Fidelin had been “hiding in plain sight” all this time, almost forgotten.

The Hidden Muse

This forgetfulness, too, was an insidious part of the world she lived in. After all, although Man Ray and his friends were interested in Black women as artistic subjects, they tended to render subjects as both primitive and invisible in their art. Moreover, seeing her as a mere “muse” to a “greater” artistic impulse, art history didn’t always think Fidelin worthy of remembering.

Adrienne Fidelin PhotographGala G, Flickr

Tragically, Fidelin’s real life followed much the same pattern. After WWII dispersed the group, Fidelin and Man Ray fell out of touch, and even when she came back to Paris, she never found herself back in the Bohemian inner circle. In 2004, at the age of 88, Fidelin passed in an assisted care facility 450 long miles south of Paris, stripped of the glamorous life she once reveled in.

Yet though she is gone, though we forgot her, it doesn’t mean we can’t remember her now.

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.