History's Women: Miscellaneous Articles: Madame Récamier, Celebrated French BeautyMadame Récamier
Celebrated French Beauty
1777 – 1849 A.D.

Jeanne Françoise Julie Adelaide Récamier, a celebrated French woman, was probably the most beautiful and graceful woman of her day. She was born in Lyons, December 3, 1777, and died in Paris, May 11, 1849. She was the daughter of a post office contractor named Bernard, and in April, 1793, married a rich banker of Paris many years older than herself. By the brilliancy of her conversation and the charm of her person and manners she made her home a great place of resort for men of education and genius. Under the rule of the French directory and during the consulate and empire her house was constantly frequented frequented by such distinguished personages such as Lucien Bonaparte, Moreau, Bernadotte, La Harpe, Benjamin Constant, and David.

The salon of Madame Récamier took on the form of opposition to the government, by and by, and she was obligated by Napoleon to leave Paris. She resided for some time at Lyons, then with the celebrated Madame de Staël at Coppet, then went to Italy, and did not enter France until the fall of Napoleon, when she returned to Paris and reopened her salon. In consequence of a reversal of fortune, she retired in 1819 to the Abbaye-aux-Bois near Paris, but her house nevertheless continued to be the resort of eminent men, among them was Châteaubriand, who was her devoted admirer. Through her connection, which regarded Madame de Staël as its chief, she exercised, although herself producing nothing, a considerable influence upon French literature.

For some years before her death she became blind, an affliction which she bore with the most gracious serenity; never complaining of it except as it prevented her attentions to her friends. Her distinguishing traits were an extreme sweetness of disposition and tenderness of heart, which obtained her the affection of all about her. It should be noted that she was quite unspoiled by the homage that was paid to her extraordinary beauty; beauty copied by painters, and perpetuated by Canova in marble.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.