Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, Madame Helvétius  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, Madame Helvétius (23 July 1722 – 12 August 1800), nicknamed "Minette", maintained a renowned salon in France in the 18th century.

One of the twenty-one children of Jean-Jacques de Ligniville and his wife Charlotte de Saureau, Anne-Catherine de Ligniville, the niece of Madame de Graffigny, married the philosopher Helvétius in 1751. She maintained a salon which featured the great figures of the Enlightenment for over five decades.

Among the habitués of Madame Helvétius's salon were Julie de Lespinasse and Suzanne Necker, writers Fontenelle, Diderot, Chamfort, Duclos, Saint-Lambert, Marmontel, Roucher, Saurin, André Chénier, and Volney. Thinkers such as Condorcet, d’Holbach, Turgot, l’abbé Sieyès, l’abbé Galiani, Destutt de Tracy, l’abbé Beccaria, l’abbé Morellet, Buffon, Condillac ou l’abbé Raynal mingled with such scientists as d’Alembert, Lavoisier, Cuvier and Cabanis. The sculptor Houdon, Baron Gérard and other leading figures of the time such as Charles-Joseph Panckoucke and François-Ambroise Didot were also attendees. Such politicians as Malesherbes, Talleyrand, Madame Roland and her husband Roland de la Platière, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin (who proposed marriage to her), Mirabeau, Pierre Daunou, Garat, Nicolas Bergasse and Napoléon Bonaparte could also be found at her salon.

Madame Helvétius died at Auteuil.




  • Peter Allan, Template:Lang, Toronto, University of Toronto, 1975
  • Jules Bertaut, Égéries du XVIIIe siècle : madame Suard, madame Delille, madame Helvétius, madame Diderot, mademoiselle Quinault, Paris, Plon 1928
  • J. A. Dainard, et al., Correspondance de Mme de Graffigny, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1985--, in progress; vol. 13 due in 2010, edition complete in 15 vols.
  • Benjamin Franklin, M. F--n [Franklin] à Madame H--s [Helvétius], Passy, imp. par Benjamin Franklin, 1779
  • Antoine Guillois, Le salon de madame Helvétius ; Cabanis et les idéologues, New York, B. Franklin, 1971
  • Claude-Adrien Helvétius, Template:Lang, Éd. David Smith (director), Peter Allan, Alan Dainard and Jean Orsoni, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1981-2004 ISBN 0802055176
  • Arsène Houssaye, Histoire du 41e fauteuil de l’Académie Française, Paris, L. Hachette et cie, 1856
  • Lucien Picqué, Louis Dubousquet, « L’incident du salon de Madame Helvétius (Cabanis et l’abbé Morellet) », Bulletin de la société française d’histoire de la médecine, T. 13 (1914)
  • Jean-Paul de Lagrave, Marie-Thérèse Inguenaud, Madame Helvétius et la société d’Auteuil, Oxford Voltaire Foundation, 1999 ISBN 0729406474
  • Jules Auguste Troubat, Essais critiques, Madame Helvétius, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1902

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