Marie-Laure, Vicomtesse de Noailles (31 October, 1902 - 29 January, 1970), was one of the 20th century's most daring and influential patrons of the arts, noted for her associations with Salvador Dalí, Balthus, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Jean-Michel Frank and others as well as her tempestuous life and eccentric personality.
She was born Marie-Laure Henriette Anne Bischoffsheim, the only child of Marie-Thérèse de Chevigné , a French aristocrat, and Maurice Bischoffsheim , a Paris banker of German Jewish and American Quaker descent. One of her great-great-great-grandfathers was the infamous Marquis de Sade, and her maternal grandmother, Laure de Sade , Countess de Chevigné , inspired at least one character in In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. Her nephew, Count Philippe Lannes de Montebello , is presently (2004) the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And her stepfather was the French playwright Francis de Croisset .
After a brief romance with the artist Jean Cocteau, Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim married, in 1923, Arthur Anne Marie Charles, Vicomte de Noailles (1891-1981), a younger son of Antonin-Just-Léon-Marie de Noailles, 5th duc de Mouchy and his wife, the Princesse de Poix . Though events transpired to reveal that Charles de Noailles was gay, the ill-matched couple had two daughters, Laure Madeleine Thérèse Marie (Mme Bertrand de La Haye Josselin ) and Nathalie Valentine Marie (Mme Alessandro Perrone ).
Marie-Laure de Noailles's fabled hôtel particulier on the Place des Etats-Unis in Paris, which was built by her grandfather Bischoffsheim, is now the headquarters of Baccarat, the crystal company. Its interiors, which were redecorated in the 1920s by French minimalist designer Jean-Michel Frank , have vanished.