I’m going to use this post to cobble together any peripheral pieces of information about the Ball. One interesting snippet was from the Countess of Granville‘s diary where she moans about having to attend. It would be interesting to know if she had a personal issue with Herman and Jane, or it was simply part of the antipathy that the nobility held for the American upstarts. I’ve read a few things now that state how difficult it must have been as an American to be accepted.
Harriet says this: “I have had such a note from Mrs Thorn, that to my utter disgust and despair I’m afraid I must go [to the ball]. The Colonel has shrewdly said that woman above thirty maybe excused coming in costume. Oh cela ira! cela ira! [translates as: it will go] I see my young friends.” (If anyone reading this has a suggestion on what exactly what she means in the latter part, I’d be interested to know.) Later she says, “The world is to dance at Thorn’s tomorrow…”
The Countess of Granville, from what I can tell, was a British peeress and society hostess like many of the women mentioned below. “Society hostess” is a fairly repugnant notion these days, but the reality is that more business was done and more relationships forged at those events than in any other manner. A woman who facilitated such affairs, facilitated the world around her. And speaking of affairs, the Countess married (the very handsome) Granville Leveson-Gower who was her aunt’s lover, in order to escape a difficult home life. Apparently the marriage was orchestrated by her aunt, with her blessing, and after a less than auspicious start, was very successful.
I’ve done some minimal research into the women Harriet said were attending the ball and here is what I found:
Countess Samoiloff . It has been hard to locate anything about her other than the same year as Thorn’s ball, she was also noted as being in attendance at Cosima at the Comedie Francaise on April 29th. Below is Lami’s oil painting of a salon in/at her residence. In Charles Osbourne’s book about the opera of Rossini, Donnizetti and Bellini, he mentions that something is “supported by lots of money from that mad woman’ the Countess Samoiloff, mistress of the composer Giovanni Pacini whose opera // Corsaro was about to be given its premiere at La Scala.” I haven’t yet been able to establish if it is the same woman, but it is an uncommon name and the timing is right. There is some scandal surrounding Vincenzo Bellini’s death, with the suggestion that Pacini and Samoiloff may have orchestrated it.
Countess Rosa Poldi (nee Trivulzio) “was daughter of one of the most polished and highly aristocratic families of neo-classical Milan”. She was also the mother of artist, Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Countess Kisseleff‘s husband, General Count Paul Kisseleff seems to have been an interesting man. “He is thought to be the Emperor’s most dangerous enemy, so greatly do his measures appear calculated to produce discontent and even lead to revolutions.” Mr Golovin. It would appear this slight was because of Kisseleff’s liberal minded ideas that included freedom for the serfs. The Tsar entrusted him with running of Walachia and Moldavia. He also served as the Russian Ambassador to Paris. The Countess herself is barely mentioned. The Countess is, of course, had nowhere near her husband’s profile.
Countess D’aspas – I have not been able to find anything on this name.
Mrs Moulton is an interesting case. I imagine she was at the ball, but she is not specifically mentioned anywhere. However, her relationship with Herman Thorn was rather prickly. It seems she was keen to use his experience in entertaining to launch herself into Parisian society. There is a rather ghastly account of Thorn agreeing to run a ball for her with the proviso that it was done according to his rules. I think I’ll save it for another post. Amusing in hindsight but appallingly arrogant and classist.
Countess d’Apponyi, wife of the Austrian ambassador, was one of the most revered hostesses in Parish at the time. But below is some conflicting information. It says she lived in the Hotel de Monaco when Thorn lived there. Which suggests that either this is incorrect, or that Thorn did indeed live in the Hotel Matignon as many believe. Here is the excerpt:
On Sunday Afternoons between 1833 and 1835, Frédéric Chopin frequently made his way to 107 rue Saint-Dominique in Paris. His destination was the Hotel de Monaco, sometimes called the Hôtel d’Eckmühl, which functioned as the home of the Austrian ambassador to Paris. He explicitly went there to visit the Countess Apponyi, wife of the Austrian ambassador. Nicknamed “the divine Therese,” the Comtesse hosted lavish salons at the embassy, and she soon became one of the most prominent hostesses in Paris. Every Monday evening, she opened her mansion for polite conversation, and on Sunday afternoons she sponsored concerts where various artists, including Chopin and Rossini, engaged in musical performances. Famously, during inclement weather, she held these musicales in her large, flower-filled greenhouse. Chopin rather enjoyed his Sunday afternoons in the Countess’s urban setting as he was sure to encounter a bevy of attractive and wealthy women who, having ample time and money, were willing to pay handsome fees for the privilege of taking piano lessons from this young, elegant and charming musical genius.
How strange to think of Chopin at Thorn’s home?