FOR this I write, that when I lie in earth,
It may be known I loved the air and mirth,
And that my book to future races tell
How I loved life and nature passing well
– My Writing (poem) by Anna de Noailles
Poet and novelist Anna de Noailles (1876 – 30 1933) was of Greco-Romanian origins, but was born in Paris where she lived all her life. She wrote three novels, an autobiography, and nine collections of poetry. In 1897 she had married Mathieu Fernand Frédéric Pascal de Noailles (1873–1942), the fourth son of the 7th Duke de Noailles.
The couple soon became the toast of Parisian high society.
De Noailles had friendly relations with the intellectual, literary and artistic elite of the day. So popular that various notable artists painted her portrait, including Antonio de la Gandara, Kees van Dongen, Jacques Émile Blanche, and the British portrait painter Philip de Laszlo. In 1906 her image was sculpted by Auguste Rodin; the clay model can be seen today in the Musée Rodin in Paris, and the finished marble bust is on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum.
For her works de Noailles was the first woman to become a Commander of the Legion of Honor. In her poetry she actively engaged with her French literary heritage while finding a source of inspiration in Greek paganism and in Nietzsche’s radical thought, de Noailles constructed an original poetic world view. Her work is best described as Dionysian–ecstatic, sensual, erotic, playful, sometimes violent, and always marked by a tragic undercurrent which becomes more apparent in her later poetry (source). She died in 1933 in Paris, aged 56, and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Portrait of Anna de Noailles, 1920s
Portrait of Anna de Noailles
Comtesse de Noailles, 1922
Anna de Noailles, 1922
Anna de Noailles by André Kertész, 1931
Anna de Noailles wearing her trademark bouffant coiffure augmented by a wall of bangs and a 1900s dress with complex sleeves, 1904.
Portrait of Anna de Noailles, 1918