Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was born into a liberal household during the Napoleonic Era, in Paris. She grew up in the house of her grandmother, Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Madame Dupin de Francueil, the illegitimate daughter of Maurice de Saxe, Count of Saxony and Marshal General of France. Great Grandfather Maurice was in turn the illegitimate son of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland, and Duke of Lithuania.
After Amantine turned 18, she married the illegitimate son of Baron Jean-Francois Dudevant, Francois Casimir Dudevant. After the birth of two children, she separated from her husband. Since divorce was heavily frowned upon in those days to the point that divorced women were outcast and shunned in society, it was not uncommon for married couples to separate and have discreet love affairs. Back then this kind of arrangement was way more acceptable than being divorced.
Amantine was known for her high profile, artistic lovers, and being a prominent writer of the Romantic era. Some of the loves in Amantine’s life were: Jules Sandeau, a french novelist; Prosper Merimee, a French writer, archaeologist, and historian; Alfred Musset, a French dramatist, poet, and novelist; Pierre Bocage, a French actor; Charles Didier, a Swiss writer and poet; Jean Pierre Felicien Mallefille, a French novelist and playwright; Louis Blanc, a French politician and historian; and most famously, Frederic Francois Chopin, the famous Polish composer of the Romantic era. After some letters have been uncovered, it is even speculated that Amantine may have been bisexual and even had a love affair with the French actress, Marie Dorval.
During Amantine’s affair with Jules Sandeau is when she began to write under the pseudonym, “George Sand.” Jules and Amantine wrote a novel together using the combined pseudonym “Jules Sand.” This how the well known “George Sand,” got her start. Women writers throughout history often used male pseudonyms in order for their work to be read by wider audiences, or in some cases to even be published. Women writers suffered from discrimination in Amantine’s time.
Amantine was a woman way ahead of her time and a notable feminist. People either loved or hated Sand. Some critics, at odds with her unconventional ways, went so far as to call her a untalented slut. Others admired her greatly for her daring and devil may care attitude. She was even known for dressing in men’s clothing and frequenting men’s clubs and gatherings, and smoking a tobacco pipe (the later so scandalous and shocking for a lady).
It is believed that the greatest love of Amantine’s life was Chopin. However, at the time it seemed to be a love/hate affair. At first Chopin could not stand Amantine, commenting that she was unattractive and he was not even sure she was actually a woman. He also had a fiance’, the beautiful Maria Wodzinska. Maria’s mother implied that marriage with her daughter was unlikely because of his poor and ever declining health and the engagement was cut off. It was after this, that Chopin sought solace with Amantine.
This great love affair lasted several years (about 9). It began to decline was Chopin’s health continued to worsen. Amantine began to express that Chopin was like another child to her and she was more like his nurse, than his lover. Amantine’s son always disliked Chopin and Chopin always favored Amantine’s daughter, even when the mother argued with her. This irritated Amantine more than anything else. It seems that it was even believed by Amantine that Chopin may have been secretly in love with her daughter. Chopin was also indifferent to Amantine’s political activism, and Amantine despised all of Chopin’s high society friends. Most likely most of those high society friends refused to associate with Amantine. It was obvious that a weak sickly character in one of her novels was inspired by Chopin, and it was sometime after this that Chopin ended their relationship.
A lot of society had begun to treat Amantine with disdain, because of her open and public affair with Chopin (and other lovers) and her dressing like a man. Pretty much she behaved like a man the way she conducted her affairs, smoked, drank, and gambled, and it scandalized all the proper society ladies. Poet Charles Baudelaire delivered one of the harshest insults to Sand: “She is stupid, heavy and garrulous. Her ideas on morals have the same depth of judgment and delicacy of feeling as those of janitresses and kept women… The fact that there are men who could become enamored of this slut is indeed a proof of the abasement of the men of this generation.”
When Chopin passed away, Amantine, still holding a grudge because he ended their affair, stubbornly refused to attend. This kind of put people off, as it was known that they were together at one time and for so long. She was viewed by many as cold and heartless because of it. Sand died many years later at the age of 71.
Amantine had two children with her husband, Casimir Dudevant…
Maurice Dudevant (1823-1889)
Solange Dudevant (1828-1899)
Amantine “Geroge Sand” has been portrayed on film a couple times. The most recent film is from 1991, where she is a main character in a film about her love affair with Chopin, titled: “Impromptu.”
George Sand has written over 50 novels, 13 plays, and 2 non-fiction/autobiographical works.
Note: The background for the framed portrait of George Sand is a detail in a painting by Monet. And the painting on the easel is actually a completed portrait of a famous unfinished painting of Sand and Chopin, by artist Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix. The painting was reconstructed using modern digital technology.