The wife of renowned painter Knute Heldner, Colette Pope Heldner had quite a career of her own. She began taking classes at an art studio where Knute was her teacher before they were married, but after Knute's death years later, Colette managed to forge her own unique, expressionistic style which she applied to some of New Orleans's most famous boulevards and landmarks. Colette was part of a thriving community of female artists in New Orleans, including Caroline Durieux, Josephine Crawford, Ida Kohlmeyer and Helen Turner.
After Colette's mother moved the family to Minnesota, Heldner began taking art lessons at a local studio operated by Rachel McFadden. It was at this studio that Heldner met her future husband, Knute, who had been hired by Rachel to give art lessons. In 1923, the couple eloped and moved to New Orleans. From the very beginning, and like so many New Orleans artists of the time, the couple fell in love with the uniquely charming atmosphere of the French Quarter, which Colette depicted in her paintings repeatedly. One of the most influential moments of her life came with a trip to Paris, where she was introduced to the Impressionist movement that was well rooted in Europe. Upon returning to New Orleans, she applied this distinctly Impressionist style, with its loose brushwork, to scenes of the French Quarter, mixing them with her own color-filled aesthetic, but that wasn't the only takeaway from her time in Europe. Whereas Colette used to sign each work with her full name, she changed her signature to simply "Colette." Regardless of the change, she went on to paint some of the most recognizable and cherished New Orleans scenes in what many art historians consider the golden era of French Quarter art.