To cite this article: Paquette, Lucy. “Who was the Comtesse d’Yanville?” The Hammock. https://thehammocknovel.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/who-was-the-comtesse-dyanville/. <Date viewed.>
Tissot’s pastel portrait, Comtesse d’Yanville and Her Four Children (c. 1895), was gifted to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by Ruth and Bruce Dayton in 1997, but it is not currently on view. Measuring 53 3/16 by 49 1/2 in. (135.1 by 125.73 cm), the large work shows the young countess in a richly decorated interior, surrounded by her children in white pinafores (left to right): Isaure and Simone in the background, and in the foreground, Daniel and Nicole. The woman in this aristocratic picture is wealthy and privileged, but she knew a great deal of heartbreak.
The Comtesse d’Yanville was Henriette-Marguerite Vivier-Deslandes (1864-1932), daughter of Baron Émile-Auguste Vivier-Deslandes (1832-1917) and Émilie Caroline Simone Hélène Oppenheim (1840-1866), a woman of German origin who died when she was two.
Her father, who was born in Florence, Italy, was in his youth a French naval officer who received the Médaille Militaire, was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1858, and became an administrator and diplomat.
A descendent of Pauline Bonaparte, sister of Napoléon I, he was created the first Baron Vivier-Deslandes by Napoléon III in 1862, the year of his marriage, through the resurrection of an extinct family title.
His maternal grandmother, Angelica Catalani (1780-1849) had been painted by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. He became a painter who by 1894 was an associate of the Society of French artists, exhibiting in the Salon as Baron Deslandes.
In 1886, his daughter Marguerite married Marie Thibaud Pierre Henry Coustant, the second Comte d’Yanville (1865-1951), a sportsman who soon became a prominent coach racer, photographed many times for Universal Sport Illustrated. He participated in the Paris-Deauville excursion of 1905.
The couple quickly had four children, beginning with three daughters: Simone (1887-1963), Isaure (1888-1966), and Nicole (1889-1977).
Their son, Daniel, was born in late 1890, and was killed in action weeks before his twenty-fourth birthday on November 4, 1914, at Mont-Kemmel, Heuvelland (Belgium). He was a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Dragoon Regiment and is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. He was characterized as earnest, upright, and devoted to his country. His father said as he was leaving to fight for his country, “Pray God that you may come back safe”, and Daniel responded “No! Pray rather that I may do my duty, and more than my duty.” Daniel was well regarded by the men he led, according to an account by The Beaumont Union, and he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. When breaking the news of his son’s death to Comte d’Yanville, his Colonel called him “a young officer full of gaiety, vigour and courage who rightly looked forward to a brilliant future.” He was struck by a shell and killed instantly.
Daniel’s name lived on. His sister, Simone, married Guy de la Mure Riviera (1870-1957) in 1908. They had two daughters and two sons, the younger of whom was Daniel de Rivière de la Mure (1913-1994).
Daniel’s sister, Isaure, was married in 1920 to Comte Gaston Christyn de Ribaucourt (1882-1961). Like her mother, she had three daughters and one son, Comte Daniel Robert Henry Adolphe Christyn de Ribaucourt (1922-2007).
Leaving many descendants, the Comtesse d’Yanville, Henriette-Marguerite Vivier-Deslandes, died at her home in 56 rue des Saints-Pères, Paris on October 18, 1932, at the age of 68. Tissot’s image of her as a beautiful young mother, wearing a pale pink gown and surrounded by her four happy children, lives on.
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The Hammock: A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.
Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color
Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library
(295 pages; ISBN (ePub): 978-0-615-68267-9).
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