Countess Sampieri

Countess Sampieri

One of my favorite characters in Thieves of Paris is Countess Irène Sampieri, mother of Madame Beatrice Camondo Reinach. Research on this lady began my interest in Nazi art theft.

When Irène was six, her father, Count Louis Cahen D’Anvers, commissioned the painter Renoir to do three portraits of his daughters. The first was Little Irène. The family hated the avant garde painting but Renoir had a contract. It was re-negotiated so that the painter only did one more. The painting known as Pink and Blue shows Irène’s younger sisters together.

Irène married Count Möise de Camondo when she was eighteen. They had two children. The older, her son Nissim de Camondo, was killed in World War I. He was piloting a plane, doing reconnaissce of enemy troop movements, when he was shot down. The younger child, Beatrice, grew up to marry Mr. Leon Reinach, also portrayed in Thieves of Paris.

Irène divorced her first husband, rich Count Möise de Camondo, to marry Count Charles Sampieri (rather poor). In 1900, it was ok to have an affair, but terrible to get a divorce. The two children were raised by their father.

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