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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri 
Princess Mathilde 
1859-1861 
  
Carte de visite 
Paul Frecker 
 
LL/13390 
  
Born at Trieste in Italy and raised in Florence and Rome, Princess Mathilde was at one time engaged to her cousin, the future Napoléon III. However, in 1840 she married the wealthy Russian Prince Demidov, who treated her so badly, insulting her and striking her in public, that Tsar Nicholas I eventually ordered him to live apart from his wife and pay her a handsome allowance. Under the Second Empire, she held a well-reputed literary and artistic salon, while maintaining ties with the Imperial court in St. Petersburg. After the death of her first husband in 1870, she married Claudius Marcel Popelin, an erudite artist, enameller, bibliophile and poet.
 
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Princess, holding semi-royal court in her Paris mansion, remarked of her uncle Napoléon I to Marcel Proust 'If it weren't for him, I'd be selling oranges in the streets of Ajaccio.' 
 

 
  
 
  
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