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Léontine Lippmann (1844-1910), also known by her married name of Madame Arman or Madame Arman de Caillavet was the muse of Anatole France and the hostess of a highly fashionable literary salon during the French Third Republic.

Life

Born into a Jewish family as a banker's daughter, she married Albert Arman. Arman's mother's maiden name was Caillavet and so they called themselves Arman de Caillavet. They had one child, the playwright Gaston Arman de Caillavet. Neither of them were faithful to the other, though they never divorced.

Beautiful in her youth, with clear blue eyes, black hair, and a mocking mouth, she was intelligent, cultivated and spoke four languages. She often attended the salons of Lydie Aubernon and it was there that she met Anatole France, in 1883. From 1888 there followed years of a passionate, exclusive liaison between the pair, often all the stormier for the jealousy of both parties. She inspired his Thaïs (1890) and Le Lys rouge (1894).

Mme de Caillavet started her own salon in the hôtel particulier at 12 avenue Hoche, near place de l'Étoile. Sitting in a bergère to the right of the fireplace, with Anatole France standing in front of the fireplace, every Sunday she welcomed the French fashionable, intellectual and political elites, including writers, actors, lawyers and députés (but not musicians, since she or Anatole did not like music). On Wednesdays, Mme Arman de Caillavet held conversational dinners on the model of those of Mme Aubernon, where could be found Alexandre Dumas, the Hellenist Brochard, professor Pozzi, Leconte de Lisle, José-Maria de Heredia, Ernest Renan and, of course, Anatole France.

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Attendees at her Salon

Comte Joseph Primoli, Jean-Élie, duc Decazes ; prince and princess Bibesco, baron and baroness de Rothschild, Robert de Montesquiou, Anna de Noailles, Louis Barthou, Marie and Pierre Curie, Marcel Proust, Leconte de Lisle, J.-H. Rosny aîné, Gabriel Hanotaux, Marcel Prévost, Pierre Loti, Maurice Barrès, Marcelle Tinayre, Sarah Bernhardt, the actress Réjane, Fernand Gregh, abbé Mugnier, the actor Lucien Guitry and his son Sacha Guitry, the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, the painter Munkaczy, Hugo Ogetti, commandant Rivière, Georg Brandes, Jules Lemaitre, Gugliemo Ferrero, the abbot and astronomer Théophile Moreux, Colette and her first husband Henry Gauthier-Villars (known as Willy), Marcel Schwob, Robert de Flers, Paul de Grunebaum, Charles Rappoport, François Crucy, Michel Corday, Joseph Reinach, Tristan Bernard, the dancer Loïe Fuller, Georges Clemenceau, professor Samuel Pozzi, le Docteur Paul-Louis Couchoud, Aristide Briand, Léon Blum, Jean Jaurès, Léopold Kaher, Pierre Mille, Charles Maurras and Raymond Poincaré.

Source

  • Jeanne Maurice Pouquet, Le Salon de Madame Arman de Caillavet, 1926.

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