16 November 2009

Women's Cultural Salons: literature, music, art, politics

I have been fascinated by the range of creative talent and interest that salonieres managed to get together in the privacy of their homes, largely during the 1795-1905 era. These women may well have had important fathers and husbands, but I am certain that it was their own organising skills that created the perfect ambience for their guests. I am equally certain that the salonieres made important contributions in their own right to the progress of 19th century literature, music and art.

You can find three posts (so far) on the topic:
1. Jewish Women: early 19th century salons
2. Berta Zuckerkandl, Vienna's Saloniere, and
3. Jewish Women: Later 19th-Century Salons a guest post for the At My Soiree blog.

Examine how well connected Geneviève Halévy Bizet Straus was. On the left she posed with Edgar Degas and two other very smartly dressed gentlemen. Marcel Proust seems to have taken the photo. On the right are Guy de Maupassant, Madame de Broissia, Visconte Eugène Melchior de Vogue, Madame Straus and Generale Anenkoff (credit: Nel mondo di Marcel Proust page)


The Clever Pup said...

Hi Hels, I just stumbled here this morning. I'm looking for photographs by Degas. What a life Genevieve Halevy Bizet Strauss must have had. She must have been dynamic because so far she looks like Margaret Hamilton!

Hels said...


What a woman! Geneviève Halévy had the good luck to be born the daughter of the composer Jacques-Fromental Halévy. In 1869 she married Georges Bizet, pupil of her father, and their son Jacques became a close friend of Marcel Proust. In 1886, the widow married the lawyer Émile Straus, a connection with the Rothschild family, and her salon became the hottest place in town.