Helena, comtesse de Noailles

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Anna Maria Helena, comtesse de Noailles (Ary Scheffer, 1856)

Anna Maria Helena ("Cosvelt" or Coswell),[1] comtesse de Noailles (ca. 1826 – 1908) was an English noblewoman. De Noailles married Charles-Antonin, second son of Antoine-Claude-Just de Noailles, duc de Mouchy and prince-duc de Poix[2] in Paris, 25 April 1849.[3] The marriage was short-lived, and their only child died at birth the following year.[4]

Madame de Noailles was a wealthy woman with houses in England, Paris, Montpellier and the French Riviera, which she moved between frequently.

She was the daughter of William Gordon Coesveldt and Anna Maria Baring, and the granddaughter of Henry Baring and Maria Matilda Baring. She was a foundress of the De Noailles School, Oxford.[5] She financially supported Elizabeth Blackwell during her struggle to become the first female doctor in the United States.[6]

She purchased an Italian peasant girl, Maria Pasqua Abruzzesi, who sat as an artists' model in Italy and Paris. The countess was drawn to the little girl by her beauty, and subsequently raised her as her daughter.[7]

She was an important shareholder of English Woman's Journal and thus a major supporter of the Langham Place group, which campaigned on several issues from the mid 1850s to the mid 1860s.[8]

Cultural references[edit]

A character in Frances Hodgson Burnett's Piccino and Other Child Stories (1894) is partially based on Helena.[2]


  1. ^ Annuaire de la noblesse de France, 1905; "Coswell" and "Caswell" are not included in Burke's Landed Gentry nor in G.E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage.
  2. ^ a b Amos, William (1985). The Originals: Who's Really Who in Fiction. 
  3. ^ Noailles genealogy
  4. ^ Lloyd, John; Mitchinson, John (5 November 2009). The QI Book of the Dead. London: Faber and Faber. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-571-24490-4. 
  5. ^ Lot notes of the portrait of Anna Maria Helena, Comtesse de Noailles, Christie's
  6. ^ Wojtczak, Helena. "Biographies". British Women's Emancipation since the Renaissance. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
  7. ^ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/browne-a-greek-captive-n01969/text-catalogue-entry
  8. ^ http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/theme/93708?back=,59337

Further reading[edit]