Demi-monde refers to a group of people who live hedonistic lifestyles, usually in a flagrant and conspicuous manner. The term was commonly used in Europe from the late 18th to the early 20th century, and modern use often refers to that period. Its connotations of pleasure-seeking contrasted with wealth and high-class behavior make it comparable to the later jet set or nomenklatura.
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"Mrs. Horton, Later Viscountess Maynard (died 1814/15)", c. 1770, by Sir Joshua Reynolds (English, 1723-1792). The sitter was one of the great courtesans of her day. In 1763 she was the mistress of the third Duke of Grafton, and later, in 1769, of the third Duke of Dorset. In 1776 she married Charles Maynard, second Viscount Maynard, who, at twenty-three, was at least a decade younger than she. In 1784 she began an affair with the nineteen-year-old Francis Russell, fifth Duke of Bedford.
Elizabeth of Valois - eldest daughter of Henry II of France & Catherine de' Medici. Her father insisted she shared her bedroom w/ her future sister-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots. She had to give precedence to Mary –a crowned queen. The 2 would remain close friends the rest of their lives. Though her sister Margaret & Mary of Scots were prettier, she was still considered attractive. She married to Philip II of Spain. Philip was enchanted by his 14 yr old bride & gave up his mistress.
Mathilda-Marie Feliksovna Kschessinskaya (31 August [O.S. 19 August] 1872 – 6 December 1971 (also known as Her Serene Highness Princess Romanova-Krasinskaya from 1921) was a Russian ballerina from a family of Polish origin. Her father Feliks Krzesiński and her brother both danced in St. Petersburg. She eventually attained the highest rank, that of prima ballerina assoluta. She was also a mistress of the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
Katharina Schratt (1853 - 1940). Mistress of Franz Joseph. She was the 'uncrowned Empress of Austria'. Their relationship started in the early 1880's and lasted until the Emperor's death in 1916.
The Countess di Castiglione caused a scandal by appearing at a 1857 costume ball at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as The Queen of Hearts, a thinly veiled allusion to the fact the she was currently the mistress of the emperor, Napoleon III. She was photographed in the costume by Pierre-Louis Pierson several years later, between 1861 and 1863, apparently wishing to preserve the scandal for posterity.
Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione (22 March 1837 – 28 November 1899), better known as La Castiglione, was an Italian courtesan who achieved notoriety as a mistress of Emperor Napoleon III of France. She was also a significant figure in the early history of photography.