The Count of D'Orsay

This text was inspired by a list of selected customers from the Old Snuff House of Fribourgh and Treyer, at the Rasp and Crown, No. 34 St-James Haymarket, London, S.W (1720-1920).

Alfred Guillaume Gabriel Grimod d'Orsay, known as the Count of D'Orsay or simply Comte D'Orsay, was a French nobleman and a prominent figure in the cultural and social life of the 19th century. He was known for his charm, wit, and his connections to various artistic and literary circles. He was born on October 4, 1785, into a noble family in Paris, France and came from a privileged background and was educated in the arts and humanities. D'Orsay initially pursued a military career and served as a cavalry officer in the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte during the Napoleonic Wars.

19th century French upper class

After leaving the military, D'Orsay became renowned in French and British society as a dandy—a fashionable and elegant man who was known for his impeccable style, including clothing and grooming. He was a patron of the arts and associated with various prominent literary and artistic figures of his time, including writers like Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas and artists like Eugène Delacroix and Honoré Daumier.

D'Orsay was known for hosting lavish social gatherings and salons, where intellectuals, artists, and aristocrats would gather for discussions and entertainment. He had artistic talents and was known for his skills as a portrait artist. He created portraits of several notable individuals, including Lord Byron. He also designed clothing and accessories, contributing to the world of fashion.

Lady Marguerite Blessington

One of the most significant aspects of D'Orsay's life was his close relationship with the Irish-born writer and aristocrat Lady Marguerite Blessington (née Power). They became inseparable companions, and D'Orsay played a central role in her social and literary activities. The two lived together for a time and hosted a famous salon in London, frequented by many literary and artistic figures of the era.

D'Orsay was patron to the Arts

D'Orsay's later years were marked by financial difficulties and declining health. He continued to be a colorful figure in the social and cultural scenes of London and Paris. Comte D'Orsay died on August 4, 1852, in Paris, at the age of 66.

Alfred Guillaume Gabriel Grimod d'Orsay, the Count of D'Orsay, is remembered as a charismatic and influential figure in the 19th-century cultural and social milieu. His associations with literary and artistic circles, his role as a dandy and patron of the arts, and his close partnership with Lady Blessington contributed to his enduring legacy as a figure of fascination in the history of the era.

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