Marie-Laure de Noailles

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Marie-Laure de Noailles in 1949, photographed by Carl van Vechten

Marie-Laure de Noailles, Vicomtesse de Noailles (French pronunciation: ​[maʁi lɔːʁ də noaj vikɔ̃tɛs də noaj]) (31 October 1902 – 29 January 1970) was one of the 20th century's most daring and influential patrons of the arts, noted for her associations with Salvador Dalí, Balthus, Jean Cocteau, Ned Rorem, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, Francis Poulenc, Jean Hugo, Jean-Michel Frank and others as well as her tempestuous life and eccentric personality. She and her husband financed Ray's film Les Mystères du Château de Dé (1929), Poulenc's Aubade (1929), Buñuel and Dalí's film L'Âge d'Or (1930), and Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet (1930).

Biography[edit]

She was born Marie-Laure Henriette Anne Bischoffsheim, the only child of Marie-Thérèse de Chevigné, a French aristocrat, and Maurice Bischoffsheim, a Paris banker of German Jewish and American Quaker descent. One of her great-great-great-grandfathers was the Marquis de Sade, and her maternal grandmother, Laure de Sade, Countess de Chevigné, inspired at least one character in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Her nephew Philippe Lannes de Montebello was the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Her stepfather was the French playwright Francis de Croisset, and her former sister-in-law, Jacqueline de Croisset, became the third wife of actor Yul Brynner.

After a brief romance with the artist Jean Cocteau, Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim married, in 1923, Charles, Vicomte de Noailles (26 September 1891 – 28 April 1981), a son of François Joseph Eugène Napoléon de Noailles, grandson of Antonin-Just-Léon-Marie de Noailles and younger brother of the 6th Duc de Mouchy (father of Philippe François Armand Marie de Noailles), himself a cadet of the French ducal house of Noailles. The couple had two daughters:

  • Laure Madeleine Thérèse Marie de Noailles, later Madame Bertrand de La Haye Jousselin (1924–1979);
  • Nathalie Valentine Marie de Noailles, former wife of Alessandro Perrone (1927–2004).

Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband moved to the fabled hôtel particulier at 11 Place des États-Unis in Paris, which was built by her grandfather Bischoffsheim. Its interiors, which were redecorated in the 1920s by French minimalist designer Jean-Michel Frank, vanished in the 1980s, due to a subsequent owner's redecoration and remodelling. Today the interiors have been renovated by Philippe Starck and house the Musée Baccarat and the headquarters of Baccarat, the crystal company.

In the 1920s, the Noailles built the Villa Noailles near Hyères. She had an affair with the young Igor Markevitch. In the 1950s she had a long-term affair with the surrealist painter Óscar Domínguez.

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