Leipzig by Night
The Muse of Fauré, Toreador Primogen
Henriette Roger-Jourdain, daughter of the artist Henri Moulignon. She lived with her husband Joseph, also an artist, along the boulevard Berthier, adjacent to John Singer Sargent and other 19th century luminaries, including painters, composers and poets. Ever a stylish couple, the Roger-Jourdains acted as frequent hosts and art patrons and were entrenched in the artistic milieu of Paris in the 1880s. Madame Roger-Jourdain particularly captured the imagination of those around her, inspiring musical compositions and portraits alike. Giovanni Boldini, who took over Sargent’s studio on the boulevard Berthier in 1886, painted his Portrait of Madame Roger-Jourdain (figure 1) in 1889. As Richard Ormond writes: "Henriette Roger-Jourdain was the daughter of one French painter, Henri Moulignon, and the wife of another, Joseph Roger-Jourdain (1845-1919). Wealthy and charming, she was a noted hostess and the friend and confidante of many prominent artists, writers and musicians of the time. The Roger-Jourdains were neighbours of Sargent in the boulevard Berthier and, together with Albert Besnard and Ernest Duez, formed part of a circle of artist friends in the mid-1880s. It was through this group that Sargent met the French composer Gabriel Fauré, who dedicated ‘Aurore’ and ‘Barcarolle No 3 in G♭ major, Op 42 (1885)’ to Madame Roger-Jourdain in 1884. In 1889 Sargent painted a portrait of the Roger-Jourdains’s daughter, which he inscribed à mon amie Madame Jourdain. Sargent and Joseph Roger-Jourdain were contributors to the fund to buy Manet’s Olympia for the Louvre in the same year.
The loss of her daughter Marie in the fall of 1890 to a fit of fever and the absence of her son Pierre sent the young mother into a crescendo of self-destructive ravings. She had withdrawn to the family’s holiday mansion in Blois, her subsequent isolation ultimately resulted in a suicide attempt by the usage of sleeping pills at the 1. November. On her dying bed she was confronted and comforted by the elderly Louis de Rouvroy, a famed Toreador duke who Embraced her in a hasty attempt to preserve the beloved muse of the ‘Belle Époque’. Embarassed by her attempt to flee the mortal world, Henriette resumed a dangerous, tiresome double life and maintained her social status for nearly three decades, slowly becoming entangled with the Camarilla of Paris and the shifting artists lounge.
There are some dark rumors that Henriette worked as an archon for Justicar Guil during WW2, but these are usually dismissed by the mistress herself, even though it would explain the choice of Prince Susanna to instate her as the new Toreador Primogen after the death of Primogen Janus Schuler.