is Blanche d’Antigny?
of us know or used to know about her. It is surely the most ambiguous
and the most controversial person in Martizay history.
are links with Martizay?
Blanche d’Antigny was
born the 9th of May
1840 at Martizay with the name of Marie Ernestine Antigny, daughter of Jean Antigny and
Eulalie Florine Guillemain. She was born at the actual Bergeault Bakery, at
the 1st floor according to the owner.
father Jean Antigny was
sacristan of our St Etienne church, according to the
birth certificate of Marie Ernestine, and carpenter,
according to other literary sources. His workshop doesn't
exist anymore. It is what the common memory call
« la forge » (smithy) and which collapsed. At the same place a more
modern building is built up. It is the actual café Tricoche.
d’Antigny is from crafts families living in the village. Her birth certificate
shows the reality of crafts activities located and active in our village
in 1840. Nowadays, these activities are less important but not have totally disappeared.
Antigny moved to Paris leaving her wife and kids at Martizay in 1847.
Later, Blanche d’Antigny's mother moves to Paris also. She entrusted her
sister-in-law of Mézières en Brenne, Marie Radegonde married with Mr Charles
Marche, with task of minding her children.
Marie Ernestine alias Blanche
d’Antigny grew in the Martizay streets and paths until she's 7 years old. TheWriter Guy
Vauzat presents in his book Ms Mérigaud's testimony who is almost
hundred-year-old while he wrote it:
« It seems that I can still see her
playing with our comrades and I. I was the eldest of the group. She was very
nice milk-white face girl, golden-blond hair, lively, tall and large for
her age. She didn't look like a <berlaude> [local expression for someone
who is not very clever] I guarantee. Greedy, like most of the kids,
she used to bit some delicacy with some preference for the sugared almond. She
was already interested in her appearance, for sure! Because her generous hair
used to get away from her plaits, and used to flutter in the wind, the kid
asked her cousin Clarisse Antigny to have her done with some cream, to have varnished
and fixed hair like bohemian girls. One day the sweet violet philicome pot was
empty, and Clarisse generously put some nuts oil on Blanche's hair.
Blanche always run through the streets and paths coming back home for bed and lunchtime
only. On Sundays, she was participating to the mass beside her father, singing
the better she could. After the mass, boastful, she was showing us her white
dress, her lacy hat, her blue ribbons. She already liked frills and
In VAUZAT, Blanche d’Antigny,
actrice et demi-mondaine,
Bear in mind that the witness is almost hundred-years-old
when she tells this story and there are 80 years between facts and testimony. The
Writor may have use his way of writing to make Ms Mérigaud's testimony
These are links between Blanche d'Antigny and our dear
1858, Blanche d’Antigny starts at the theatre at Paris. She
is 18 years old! She is model for the painter Paul Baudry
for the paint « La Madeleine pénitente » [«The penitent
Madeleine»] (actually at Nantes museum).
person grata of the theatre world in Parisians "grand
cafés", she integrates quickly.
She follows a Russian
lover to St Petersburg where she is acting. But she is thrown out of Russia by
a tsarina order because of her behaviour. She is acting at Hamburg and at
Paris. She competes and makes Léa Silly, Van Ghell and Hortense Schneider
jealous. With more success she is acting for more important role. She is very
famous in Paris.
In a time where there is no TV, no radio, no movie only
theatre and newspaper are matter. Blanche d’Antigny aura has to be compared
with our contemporary movie stars. She is often the subject of newspaper
articles in « Le Figaro », « Le Gaulois »,
« l’Eclipse » or « La Vie Parisienne ». She becomes rich in
money and lovers.
participates as an ambulance woman to the siege of Paris in 1870 and she is at
Versailles during the time of the Commune. Left by her
banker-protector-lover, she goes abroad to make money. She is acting at Cairo
and Alexandria in Egypt. Back in Paris, she lives at the " Grand Hôtel du
is ill. She has typhoid fever and dies the 30th of June 1874 at the 93
boulevard Haussmann building. It is one of the very much in the public eye
area of Paris at the end of the XIX century. The mass was celebrated at St Augustine
church in the 8èmedisctrict of Paris. She is buried at Père Lachaise
why is she in our common memory?
it because of her artistic career? Is it because she was very popular?
these reasons are right but also because Emile Zola used
d’Antigny's life to write one of his most famous episod of Rougon-Macquart story, his
famous novel « Nana ».
of the page]
Copyright (c) 2004 Les Amis du Vieux Martizay. Tous droits réservés.