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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > The Second Empire through the Lens of A.A.E. Disdéri

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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri 
Comte de Morny 
Carte de visite 
Paul Frecker 
Auguste de Morny was the son of Queen Hortense by the Comte de Flahaut, and therefore the illegitimate half-brother of Napoléon III. An important figure of the Second Empire, he gave unfailingly sound advice to the Emperor, who made him first a count and then a duke. A speculator and a man of pleasure, his salon was usually full of financial sharks and 'actresses.' However, he ran the Corps Législatif brilliantly, preparing the way for a constitutional régime.
Both patronising and affectionate, he at times all but dominated his half-brother, who was a little frightened of him. Always sensitive about their relationship, the Emperor was horrified to learn that de Morny had hung a portrait of their mother in his drawing room. Early in 1853 he sent Eugénie to ask him to remove it. 'The less you boast about your parentage, the more you'll be treated as a brother,' she advised him, and they remained friends for the rest of his life.
The one statesman who might have ensured the long-term survival of the Second Empire, his death (from an overdose of aphrodisiac pills, it was unkindly rumoured) was a great loss to the Emperor. 'He had it in him, if he had been honest, to have become a very great man', was the verdict of Lord Cowley, the British ambassador. 
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