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  • Sarah Gregor

    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.

  • Julia Dalton

    Cora Pearl (born Emma Elizabeth Crouch, 1835-1886) was an English courtesan or "demi-mondaine" who lived in France, and was nicknamed "the great horizontal" or "the daily". She was mistress to the highest aristocracy of the Second Empire, including Prince Napoleon and the Duke of Morny. After ruining the young Duval in 1872, she was deported for a while. Neither of their reputations recovered, and she died impoverished and forgotten in 1886.

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Cora Pearl CDV

Vintage inspiration
Laura Gano
Vintage inspiration

"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.

cora+pearl | Cora Pearl (Emma Elizabeth Crouch)

portrait of Jane Digby el Mesrab, also known at various times as Baroness Schwartzenberg, Lady Ellenborough

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.

A rare behind the scenes glimpse of a rather serious looking Victorian (1890s) bride who is being dressed for her big day.

a beautiful female from the Beja People, the remaining ancestry of the True Egyptians, who built the world's greatest and longest lasting empire that stood for 4,000 years!

turnofthecentury: Mary Lencret, a well-known Demi-mondaine who I found particularly seductive, c.1906 by J.H.Lartigue [aged 12 at the time;]

By the 1860′s Pearl became of the most famous courtesans. Some of her lovers included: The Duke of Rivoli, Duke of Morny, and Prince Willem of Orange. She was not only famous in Europe, but in the United States. Her wealth included several houses, jewels, artwork, horses and stables. She was so extravagant that she would bathe in a silver tub of champagne.

Gaganichika (aka He Who Knows All About It, aka Oscar Wilde) - Kickapoo - 1898

Recommended reading: Fortune, frocks, fops and flops a look at some British and American social history