Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NamePrince Antoine BIBESCO
Birth1878
Death1951
Marriage1919
SpouseElizabeth ASQUITH
Birth1897
Death1945
FatherHerbert Henry ASQUITH (1852-1928)
MotherMargot TENNANT (1864-1945)
Notes for Prince Antoine BIBESCO
From Wikipedia

Antoine, Prince Bibesco (Romanian: Prinţul Anton Bibescu) (July 19, 1878 - September 2, 1951) was a Romanian aristocrat, lawyer, diplomat and writer.

Biography

His father was Prince Alexandre Bibesco, the last surviving son of the Hospodar of Wallachia. His mother was Helene Epourano, daughter of a former Prime Minister of Romania. Though raised at 69, Rue de Courcelles, in Paris, Antoine continued to oversee the Bibesco estates in Craiova until after World War II.

As a young man, his mother, Princess Hélène Bibesco's celebrated Paris salon gave him the opportunity to meet Charles Gounod, Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Saëns, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Aristide Maillol, Anatole France and Marcel Proust among many other notables. Both his father and mother commissioned artworks and music (most notably Edgar Degas and George Enescu) and Antoine continued this family tradition, particularly through his friendship with Vuillard.

Marcel Proust became a lifelong friend and shared a secret language in which Marcel was Lecram and the Bibescos were Ocsebib. Antoine made a concerted effort to have Proust's Du Côté de Chez Swann (in which, it is said, Bibesco was the model for Robert de St. Loup) published by André Gide and the Nouvelle Revue Française, but failed in that effort. Toward the end of Proust's life, Bibesco, who was a great raconteur, was an outside ear for the reclusive writer. Later he published Letters of Marcel Proust to Antoine Bibesco.
Bibesco, though not a prolific writer, was the author of a number of plays in French and had at least one American success. In 1930 his play Ladies All was performed on Broadway at the Morosco Theatre, running for 140 performances. He also translated Weekend by Noel Coward and Le Domaine by John Galsworthy into French.

Diplomatic career

Having earlier served as councellor of the Romanian legations in Paris and Petrograd, by 1914 Prince Antoine was First Secretary of the Romanian Legation in London and by 1918 had entered the circle of Herbert Henry Asquith (former Liberal Prime Minister). At this time he was in a relationship with the writer Enid Bagnold, but his affections for her were replaced by those he began to feel for the twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth Asquith (he was 40 at the time). Margot Asquith, her mother, thought he would be a steadying influence on her daughter. "What a gentleman he is. None of my family are gentlemen like that; no breeding you know," she wrote.

Prince and Princess Bibesco, 1919
The marriage took place at St. Margaret's, Westminster on April 29, 1919. It was the society event of the year, attended by everyone from Queen Alexandra to George Bernard Shaw. Their only child, Priscilla, was born in 1920 (and died in 2004).

Apparently marriage did not change Antoine's womanizing ways. Rebecca West (with whom he had a short affair in 1927) called him "a boudoir athlete". While attending a party at the French embassy in London and looking around the room, West realized that every woman in attendance had been his mistress at one time or another.

Antoine continued his diplomatic career in Washington, D.C. (1920–1926) as Minister of the Romanian Legation (the present Embassy of Romania in Washington, D.C. was first used as such during his tenure) and in Madrid (1927–1931). In 1936, after Romanian Prime Minister Gheorghe Tătărescu removed Nicolae Titulescu as Foreign Minister and recalled nearly all Romania's diplomats, Prince Bibesco had the unenviable responsibility of reassuring England and France that Romania was not slipping into the grip of fascism. The World War II years were spent in Romania where his wife died (in 1945) and when, after the war, his estates were confiscated by the communists he left his country, never to return. Enid Bagnold, in her autobiography, tells of unwittingly smuggling silver across the English Channel for him after the war. He died in 1951 and was buried in Paris.

"He had three tombs in his heart," Enid Bagnold wrote in her Times obituary, "which I think he could never finally close - of his mother, his brother Emmanuel and his wife."
Notes for Elizabeth ASQUITH
Elizabeth, Princess Bibesco née Elizabeth Asquith (26 February 1897 – 7 April 1945) was an English writer, active between 1921 and 1940. A final posthumous collection of her stories, poems and aphorisms was published under the title Haven in 1951, with a preface by Elizabeth Bowen.

Elizabeth Charlotte Lucy was the first child of Herbert Henry Asquith (British Prime Minister, 1908-1916) and his second wife, Margot (Tennant). As candidly recorded in her mother's 1920 autobiography, she was a precocious child of uncertain temper. Life as the Prime Minister's daughter thrust her into the public eye at an early age and she developed a quick wit and a social presence beyond her years. When she was just 14 years old, The Times (reporting on her recovery from pneumonia) stated that "many members of the House have made the acquaintance of Miss Asquith and in expressing their concern for her health, have referred to her charm of manner and to the interest which she has begun already to show in political matters."

As a teenager, during World War I, she was given opportunities to do "good works", organizing and performing in "matinees" for the servicemen. Her first known literary effort was a short duologue called "Off and On" which she performed with Nelson Keys in 1916 at the Palace Theatre. In the same year she organized a large show of portraits by John Singer Sargent at the Grafton Galleries to aid the Art Fund and a "Poets' Reading" in aid of the Star and Garter Fund. In 1918 she played small roles in two silent war movies by D.W. Griffith, "Hearts of the World" and "The Great Love"

]Marriage and Paris

Antoine and Elizabeth Bibesco
In 1919 she married Prince Antoine Bibesco, a Romanian diplomat stationed in London, a man twenty-two years her senior. It was the society wedding of the year, attended by everyone from the Queen to George Bernard Shaw. The wedding was filmed by the newly formed British Moving Picture News organization. After the marriage, Prince and Princess Bibesco lived in Paris at the Bibesco townhouse at 45, Quai Bourbon at the tip of the Ile St Louis looking up the river toward Notre Dame cathedral. The walls of the apartment were decorated with huge canvases by Vuillard. "They weren't pictures. They were gardens into which you walked through a frame," wrote Enid Bagnold.

Antoine Bibesco was a life-long friend of Marcel Proust and after his marriage to Elizabeth she too became a favorite of the reclusive writer. At the time of her marriage Proust wrote that she "was probably unsurpassed in intelligence by any of her contemporaries," and added that "she looked like a lovely figure in an Italian fresco". He would leave his house late at night to visit them, to discuss Shakespeare with Elizabeth or to gossip with Antoine until dawn. Elizabeth wrote a moving obituary for Proust in the November 1922 New Statesman. "Gently, deliberately, he drew me into that magic circle of his personality with the ultimate sureness of a look that needs no touch to seal it. Insensibly you were drawn into that intricate cobweb of iridescent steel, his mind, which, interlacing with yours, spread patterns of light and shade over your most intimate thoughts."
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Writings

Between 1921 and 1940 Elizabeth published three collections of short stories, four novels, two plays and a book of poetry. All of these works have a "continental" sensibility. They deal almost entirely with a kind of love in which the heroines ponder the least gesture of a man until it takes on the proportions of an emotional event with lasting implications, while the heroes spend their time in mute surrender at the feet of remote and disdainful women. "One young poet had described her soul as a fluttering, desperate bird, beating its wings on the bars of her marvellous loveliness," is a sample of her prose style (from the short story "Pilgrimage", 1921).

Her novels and stories, which by 1940 were considered merely fashionable, flimsy stuff with no lasting significance, can now be seen as the illumination of a class of people who were made irrelevant by the First World War but who refused to accept their irrelevance.

Elizabeth Bibesco was connected (especially in the mind of the media) with Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, neither of whom treated her well in their letters and diaries, especially after a liaison between Elizabeth and Mansfield's husband, John Middleton Murry. Woolf wrote, "She is pasty and podgy, with the eyes of a currant bun."
[edit]Final years

She travelled with her husband in his capacity as Romanian ambassador, first to Washington (1920–1926) and then to Madrid (1927–1931). She was in Romania during World War II and died there of pneumonia in 1945 at the age of 48. She was buried in the Bibesco family vault on the grounds of Mogosoaia Palace outside Bucharest. Her epitaph reads, "My soul has gained the freedom of the night" — the last line of the last poem in her 1927 collection.

Elizabeth's death was the final sorrow for her mother, Margot, who died within months of her daughter's passing. Prince Antoine, forced out of Romania after the war, never returned to his homeland. He died in 1951 and was buried in Paris. Priscilla Hodgson, the only child of Prince and Princess Bibesco, continued to live at 45, Quai Bourbon until her death in 2004.
Elizabeth's portrait was painted twice by Augustus John, in 1919 and again in 1924. The first painting (titled "Elizabeth Asquith") shows her as a vivacious debutante in a feather stole over bare shoulders. This picture is in the Laing Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. In the second portrait, seen here (titled "Princess Antoine Bibesco"), Elizabeth appears slightly weary and melancholic, her eyes averted just enough to suggest a break in her former self-confidence. She wears a mantilla given to her father by the Queen of Portugal and holds in her hand one of her own books. When shown at the Royal Academy summer show in 1924, Mary Chamot, writing in Country Life, wrote of this painting that it "has the force to make every other picture in the room look insipid, so dazzling is the contrast between the mysterious darkness of her eyes and hair and the shimmering brilliance of the white lace she wears over her head."
Last Modified 26 Mar 2011Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh