Apollonie Sabatier (1822-1889) was a French courtesan, artists’ model and a Bohemian in Paris. She also maintained a popular salon, where she acquainted most of the intellectuals of her times in Paris, such as artists, musicians, writers and art historians. As a socialite, some of her acquaintances include Alfred de Musset, Auguste Clésinger, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Charles Baudelaire, Edmond de Goncourt, Edmond Richard, Édouard Manet, Gustave Dore, Gustave Flaubert, Gustave Ricard, Hector Berlioz, Henry Monnier, Louis Bouilhet, Nina de Villard, Paul de Saint-Victor, Théophile Gautier, Victor Hugo, Vincent Vidal, and the French opera composer and music critic Ernest Reyer, to name just a few.
Some of Apollonie Sabatier’s famous acquaintances wrote articles about her to please her. The French artist Vincent Vidal has painted her portrait, and she was the model for Auguste Clésinger’s marble sculpture of 1847, ‘Femme piquée par un serpent’ (Woman bitten by a snake), which is now on display at Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Also, Sabatier was one of the women who inspired ‘Les Fleurs du mal’ (The Flowers of Evil), a volume of French poetry by Charles Baudelaire.
In the oil painting titled ‘L’Atelier du peintre’ by Gustave Courbet, she was portrayed along with her lover and the Belgian tycoon Alfred Mosselman. After Mosselman’s death, Sabatier became the mistress of the English art collector Sir Richard Wallace, who financed and built the Wallace Fountains, which are public drinking fountains designed as cast iron sculptures scattered throughout Paris.
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