Who was madame barbe de rimsky-korsakov?

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Her name is Varvara (in Russian Варвара), often called Barbe (Demetrievna Morgassov). She was a wife of Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and reportedly the aunt of the famous composer by the same name. Her husband was from rich aristocratic family. He was a VERY handsome man. They married in Moscow when she was 16 or 17 and he was 20. This couple was mentioned in "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy. They had three sons: Sergei, Alexi and Nikolay.

However, they divorced and Varvara left for France. She was a regular at the Court of Napoleon III and Eugenie and was reportedly one of his lovers. Prince Obolensky wrote that she was known everywhere in France thanks to her beauty and charm. The French called her "La Venus tartare". During her time in Paris, she was painted twice by the portrait painter of the day, Franz Xavier Winterhalter. The second portrait, painted in 1845, became the most well known, and is now in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

After the Franco Prussian War Barbe went to live in Nice, where it is believed she died at age 45 and is buried in the Russian cemetary. Cause of death is unknown. Other royal ladies of Napoleon's Court lived much longer, into their '80's and even 100's.

At this time in Nice there a large Russian community. The Czar would come in his yacht to Nice in the summers.

Her son Nikolay came back to Russia to his father and later married to the daughter of Natalia Pushkina-Lanskaya. What became of the other two sons is unknown.
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