Author photo. Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767–1855)

Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767–1855)

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Adélaïde-Charlotte-Louise-Éléonore d'Osmond, known as Adèle, was born at Versailles to an ancient French noble family. Her father René Eustache, 4th marquis d’Osmond, was a royal officer and diplomat, and her mother Eléonore Dillon was a lady-in-waiting to King Louis XV's daughter Madame Adélaide. Little Adèle was raised at Versailles and was the pet of the court there. After the outbreak of the French Revolution, Adèle d'Osmond and her parents went into exile in England. There she met and married at age 17 the wealthy general (later ennobled as a comte) Benoît de Boigne, 30 years her senior. The marriage was unhappy and the couple separated permanently in 1804. Adèle d'Osmond returned to Paris that year, and became a friend of Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier. With the return of the Bourbons to power in 1814, Adèle d'Osmond rose to a prominent position in society. She presided over a brilliant salon, where the aristocracy mingled with politicians, diplomats, and writers, and invitations were highly prized. However, the July Monarchy (1830-1848) provedd to be the absolute peak of Adèle d'Osmond's life. Now known as the comtesse de Boigne, she was an intimate friend of the new Queen of the French, Marie-Amélie de Bourbon. The comtesse not only maintained a lively interest in political developments but, at times, became an influential voice in affairs of state. In 1835, she began to write her famous memoirs. They were published after her death in an abridged 1907 edition and in full in 1921, under the title Recits d’une Tante: Memoires de la comtesse de Boigne, née d’Osmond (Stories of an Aunt, Memoirs of the Countess de Boigne, born Osmond). Marcel Proust was a careful reader, and was inspired to create the character of Madame de Villeparisis in À la recherche du temps perdu. The comtesse also wrote two novels, La Maréchale d'Aubemer, nouvelle du XVIIIe siècle (1866) and Une Passion dans le grand monde, published in 1867.
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