Marie-Laure de Noailles
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Marie-Laure, Vicomtesse de Noailles (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, Man Ray, Luis Bunuel, Francis Poulenc, Jean-Michel Frank and others as well as her tempestuous life and eccentric personality. She and her husband financed Ray's film Mystery of the Chateau of Dice (1929), Poulenc's Aubade (1929), Bunuel and Dali's film L'Age d'Or (1930), and Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet (1930).
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 infamous Marquis de Sade, and her maternal grandmother, Laure de Sade, Countess de Chevigné, inspired at least one character in In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. Her nephew, Count Philippe Lannes de Montebello, is presently (2004) the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Her stepfather was the French playwright Francis de Croisset, and her sister-in-law, Jacqueline de Croisset, was the third wife of the actor Yul Brynner.
After a brief romance with the artist Jean Cocteau, Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim married, in 1923, Arthur Anne Marie Charles, Vicomte de Noailles, a grandson of Antonin-Just-Léon-Marie de Noailles, 5th duc de Mouchy and younger brother of the 6th Duc de Mouchy (father of the present Duc), himself a cadet of the French ducal house of Noailles. Though events transpired to reveal that Charles de Noailles was gay, the ill-matched couple had two daughters, Laure Madeleine Thérèse Marie (Mme Bertrand de La Haye Jousselin who died 1979) and Nathalie Valentine Marie (former wife of Alessandro Perrone, who died 2004).
Marie-Laure de Noailles's fabled hôtel particulier on the Place des Etats-Unis in Paris, which was built by her grandfather Bischoffsheim, is now the headquarters of Baccarat, the crystal company. Its interiors, which were redecorated in the 1920s by French minimalist designer Jean-Michel Frank, have vanished and are now replaced by an interior-design scheme by Philippe Starck.