Celeste, an extraordinary true story~

“Céleste was the muse for French painter Thomas Couture’s Romans During the Decadence (1847). She is depicted as the naked fair-haired woman in the centre of the scene.”, Roland Perry”.

My life has been made all the more richer for having read the unique life of Countess, Courtesan and all round artist not to mention well received writer,”Celeste” and I have best selling author, OAM Roland Perry to thank.


The author himself, and OAM Roland Perry delivering his speech on Celeste with panache!


Attending the launch of Celeste, held at the Victoria State Library, pictured with guest Daniel and last but not least,  French Senator, Joëlle Garriaud – Maylam who elegantly opened the launch.

This riveting biography is so full of twists and turns much like Celeste’s racy dance routines’ most friends I retell the story to believe Celeste is a tale of fiction! Thus we are reminded the life of Celeste is of paramount importance for her contribution to the arts and humanity, which therefore must be retold to the many unfortunate people who like me had no idea of the inspiring countess!

However I won’t spoil and give away Roland Perry’s biography on this French enchantress as I will leave it to you to indulge yourself into reading the the book! I will instead touch on a few aspects to give you a little tease 😉 on “Celeste” (there are simply too many to mention in one blog!).

Celeste’s popularity increased as she was star attraction at Paris dance halls where she created her own take of the waltz with series of high kicking dancing  giving rise to the cancan decades later.  Poster designed by Henri de Toulouse – Lautrec towards the end of the century.

One of Celeste’s life turning moments was her move to Melbourne which was of paramount importance to anchoring her marriage to Count Lionel de Chabrillian.  His appointment as French consul-general in Melbourne (during the Gold boom time) helped their relationship flourish without the negativity encountered from Lionel’s family for marrying what appeared to be below their level in society however as you will discover further in the book, you will question whose character remains superior!

I also appreciated Roland Perry’s interesting insight into life as it was in Melbourne, mid 1850s as Celeste eventually set up home in St.Kilda during her time down under.  Celeste’s love hate relationship with Australia gave further rise to her writing skills as she observed a very different life to that in France.

Melbourne circa 1850s

Celeste’s life trajectory knew no bounds especially considering she was born in the gutter, it was her determination and intellect more than her captivating beauty which helped her overcome obstacles and reach successes enough to cover at least a few lifetimes.  Despite the many times when her life was held so precariously by a thread and all had seemed lost it was destiny for her to keep blazing a trail that no other French woman had in the mid 19th century despite all adversary encountered.

Celeste aged 70, on a bridge over the Seine. Celeste would continue to write into her 80s.

As an avid reader, I find almost nothing more satisfying than to be transported into another world yet to be inspired also is another level and must I say Celeste has left me spellbound, after all she was a muse to many renown artists from Henri de Toulouse-Lautre to Georges Bizet whom is to believed to have made his finest work, “Carmen”, modelling the main character after Celeste.

Vintage poster of Carmen, playwright, it is said Georges Bizet modelled the main character on Celeste ~

They say Fortune favours the brave and Celeste couldn’t be a more perfect example.

The daring Celeste added equestrienne to her list of titles as she braved sell out crowds applauding her riveting chariot riding races at the Hippodrome in 1845.

For more insight into the remarkable life of Celeste, visit:



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