A recent post of a very interesting blog—Une Autre Histoire [Another History/Story]—focused on Isabeau de Clugny, also known as “La belle Isabeau” (the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas’ poem, later set to music by Berlioz). This short description of the muse makes one want to find out more. Here is a rough translation of the post:
La belle Isabeau [beautiful Isabeau], an African-descendant of Saint-Domingue was the daughter of a European woman and an Afro-Caribbean male (a rare situation, since the reverse was more common in the colonial Caribbean). It has been said—even in writing—that her mother was Madame de Clugny, Baroness de Nuits, née Charlotte-Thérèse de Tardieu de Maleissye. Madame de Clugny was the wife of Jean-Etienne Ogier de Clugny de Nuits (born in Guadeloupe), a steward in Saint-Domingue from 1760 to 1764 and the Comptroller General of Finance in 1776 (replacing Turgot). The baron was known for his extremely relaxed mores.
Madame de Clugny, a widow since 1776, was certainly not to be outdone, since she was the inspiration for the Marquise de Merteuil in Liaisons dangereuses [Dangerous Liaisons]. Her alleged daughter, Isabeau, lived in Paris during the reign of Louis XVI and made headlines. [. . .] It is said that Isabeau secretly visited her mother. She was a fashionable woman and, as wealthy as she was free in terms of speech, Isabeau announced in the spring of 1783 she was willing to pay 2,000 louis (the equivalent of several tens of thousands of euros) for the favors of Count of Artois, brother of King Louis XVI (the future Charles X). Isabeau must have been well-protected, because not only was she not worried, but also the prince, amused by the proposal, invited her to his castle at Bagatelle.
For original post (in French), see http://www.une-autre-histoire.org/la-belle-isabeau/
Also see http://www.une-autre-histoire.org/