Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Who Was Micheline Resco?

Micheline Resco

Micheline Resco (1894–1968) was a Romanian-born, Parisian portrait artist best known as the mistress and then second wife of John J. Pershing, Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Forces during the First World War. In 1917, Resco was commissioned by the French Minister of War to paint a portrait of Pershing, and the two met for the first time at the Crillon Hotel in Paris. Resco and Pershing began a relationship that lasted over 30 years, until the general’s death in 1948.

Resco's 1921 Portrait of General Pershing

Resco followed Pershing to the United States a few months after he left France in 1919, where she split her residence between New York City and Washington, DC. Though their relationship remained secret to the general public, Resco corresponded with several members of Pershing’s family, particularly his son, Warren; brother, James F. Pershing; and sister-in-law, Jessie Jackson Pershing. Resco and Pershing were married by a Catholic priest at Walter Reed Hospital, where Pershing was recovering from a stroke, in 1946. After the general’s death at the age of 88, Resco returned to Paris. 

Source: Donald W. Smythe, SJ, Papers


  1. Anyone have the rest of the story? After she returned to Paris, where and how long did she live? Any other paintings by her around?

  2. I was in ROTC in college back in 1968, and a member of the Pershing Rifles fraternity. During pledging, we had lessons on the "life of Pershing." Micheline Resco was never mentioned. Pershing's wife had died in the fire atvvthe Presido, and that was that.
    A few years ago, I was invited to alimni night, to meet the newest pledge class. As it happened, they were receiving the same lesson. Still no mention of Micheline Resco!
    I suspect it is a lingering effect of how the relationship was kept from the public for so many years.

  3. I recall hearing stories of Pershing the ladies man. I suppose the Presidio tragedy though with the loss of his wife and I believe a child or children and to then make a stoic rock hard figure leader figure trudging bravely ahead would be a more fitting legacy for the country.

  4. I believe there was a very large age difference as well. Might have been something that initially bothered Pershing and his public image.

  5. Ah, "Aunt Mikie" as Warren called her, may have visited the US in 1919, but she lived in France until 1940, when she fled ahead of the German invasion.

    Pershing was recovering from a stroke in 1946 when he married Resco, but he had been living in a suite of rooms at Walter Reed since '42; Patton visited him there before he departed for the North African invasion.

    I understood that there was a Resco collection in France, mostly landscapes, some years ago, but I don't know anything else about it or if it still exists.

  6. Smythe and Tucker's biography has the most details about Rescoe. She was mostly unknown in life.

    Ultimately Pershing was a very private person. By '46 when they finally married Pershing had been out of the news so long that his marriage wasn't reported.

  7. We have two paintings from is ADM Sims and the other is GEN Pershing--probably the best likeness of GEN Pershing anywhere. by anyone The Military Order of the World Wars.

  8. There are some details about Micheline Resco in the book "Until the Last Trumpet Sounds: The Life of General of the Armies John J. Pershing" by Gene Smith. She apparently had a good relationship with Pershing's son and sisters. When Pershing's son Warren went to school in Europe as a teenager, she seemed to have kept her eye on him for Pershing. There are other bits and pieces scattered among several other books and memoirs. I'm unaware of any source that has pulled all of the pieces into a coherent story.

  9. How was she a "mistress"? Pershing was a widower when they first met. His only other wife had died in 1915.

    1. Agreed; it's sort of an archaic assessment of their relationship. Unless there's some evidence that he supported her financially as a so-called "kept" woman?

  10. I agree with John's assessment, can't be a mistress to a widower. More Elites Bull to belittle regular country boys who are Great American.