Jeanne Francoise Julie Adelaide Recamier, a French leader of society, born in Lyons, Dec. 4, 1777, died in Paris, May 11, 1849. Her father was M. Bernard, a banker, connected with the postal service; his receptions were attended by distinguished people, who greatly admired her extraordinary beauty, modesty, and accomplishments. In 1793 she married M. Récamier, a rich banker of middle age, for whom she felt only respect. He purchased in 1798 the hotel Necker, which led to her lifelong intimacy with Mme. de Staël. This displeased Napoleon, and she gave him further offence by declining in 1803 to become a lady attendant on the empress Josephine. The bankruptcy of her husband made her in 1804 accept the hospitality of Mme. de Staël at Cop-pet, where she met Prince Augustus of Prussia. She had accepted with indifference the homage, though not the friendship, of the brothers Montmorency, Lucien Bonaparte, Benjamin Constant, and other celebrities; the only man whose affection she seems to have returned was the Prussian prince, but she refrained from urging a divorce to enable her to accept his proposal of marriage.
Napoleon objecting in 1811 to her residing in Paris, she spent some years in Burgundy, Lyons, and Italy. Her patriotism remained, however, unabated, and when in 1815 the duke of Wellington paid his respects to her and exulted over Waterloo, she forbade him her house. New reverses obliged her to occupy modest apartments in the abbaye aux Bois, formerly a convent, in the faubourg St. Germain. In 1817, at the death of Mme. de Staël, she first met Chateaubriand, in whose enthusiastic admiration she took great pride. His wife dying in 1846, he offered to marry Mme. Récamier, whose husband had died in 1830; she declined, but he remained to the last her faithful friend and correspondent. (See Chateaubriand's Mémoires d' outre tombe.) Her partiality for royalists and for ultramontane writers of the romantic school, and the occasionally intolerant character of her brilliant receptions, did not escape criticism amid the general admiration which she inspired to the last. - See Souvenirs et correspondance tirés des papiers de Madame Récamier, edited by her niece and adopted daughter, Mme. Lenormant (2 vols., Paris, 3d ed., 1860; English translation by Isaphene M. Luyster, Boston, 1867), and Madame Récamier, les amis de sa jeunesse, by the same (1872; English translation by I. M. Luyster, Boston, 1875).