Maria Kalergis-Muchanow

Maria Kalergis-Muchanow


Maria Kalergis-Muchanow (1822–1874)

Anna Chamiec, after a watercolour by Dellessert, miniature, watercolour and gouache, 1983, 83 x 63.

Collection: Muzeum Fryderyka Chopina, Warsaw [M/1464].


In the years 1847–1858, the Polish pianist and arts patroness Maria Kalergis-Muchanow, née Nesselrode, resided in Paris. In her Parisian salon, she gathered around her many outstanding artists, including musicians (Liszt, Chopin, Wagner), poets (Heine, who dedicated his poem ‘The White Elephant’ to her, and Norwid, whom she inspired to write Pier¶cień wielkiej damy [The grand lady’s ring]) and writers (Musset and Gautier). She was famed for her beauty and intelligence. From 1847, she was a pupil of Chopin and a frequent guest in his salon, as Delacroix mentioned in his journal: [Friday, 30 March 1849] ‘Mme Kalergi [sic] appeared first on one of the earlier occasions; she did not play very sympathetically, but she really is exceedingly beautiful when she raises her eyes as she plays, like a Magdalen by Guido Reni or Rubens’ [Delacroix 1995, 97]. [Thursday, 17 May 1849] ‘I went to the church in Chaillot. […] Thence I made my way to Chopin’s; he really feels a little better. Mrs Kalergis was there.’ [Delacroix 2003, i, 204].

The name of Maria Kalergis appears several times in Chopin’s pocket diary for the year 1849.