The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Léonide Leblanc

Léonide Leblanc

The actress and courtesan Léonide Leblanc (1842-1894), seen here wearing a man's tweed suit.

One of the great cocottes of the nineteenth century, in her heyday during the Second Empire, the actress and courtesan Léonide Leblanc was known as ‘Mademoiselle Maximum’. At one point in her career as a grande horizantale in her beautiful house in the rue de Prony, she was running simultaneously both the Socialist politician Georges Clemenceau and the duc d’Aumale, a younger son of King Louis-Philippe. Apparently both men were rather amused by the improbability of the connection.

The duc d’Aumale remained her principal provider for many years. Travelling to his château at Chantilly one day by train, she was sharing her compartment with several society ladies who were vying with one another to prove the intimacy of their social connection to the duke. One boasted that she was taking tea with the duke the following day, another that she was dining with the duke next week, and a third, that she and her husband were staying with the duke next month. As the train drew into the station at Chantilly, Leblanc alighted, and as she closed the door, smiled her sweetest smile and said ‘And I, ladies, am sleeping with the duke tonight.’

Photographed by Erwin Hanfstaengl of 4, rue Frochot, Paris.


Code: 122986
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© Paul Frecker 2018