Celebrity couplings and breakups are fame fodder in the modern world. But in the early 1800’s it was not so common. Chopin the composer and Sand (writer Amantin Lucille Dupin who found it easier to publish under the male name George) shared nearly ten years of passion, creativity and connection. The story goes that she would lie naked under his piano, smoking cigars and scribbling away while he composed his nocturnes.
It ended badly between them, spurring her to write Lucrezia Florioni in which the villain is a dead ringer for Chopin. He would die two years later at the age of 39, still a prolific composer. In fact, his last posthumous publication was “Devil’s Trill” in 2001.
The couple were painted by their mutual friend, artist Eugène Delacroix. It hung in Delacroix’s studio until his death. His estate curator split the portrait in half in the belief that two paintings would sell better than one.
And so they are now forever separated. Sand’s half hangs in the Ordruppgaard Museum in Copenhagen. Chopin’s half is in the Louvre.
I wanted to bring them back together. To imagine the heady fragrance of her cigar smoke, the uncertain touch of piano keys, the sweetness. So I wrote this: