Félix Faure

I’ve frequently heard the bit of C19th trivia that French President Félix Faure (30 January 1841 – 16 February 1899) died in office while getting a blowjob from his mistress.


So  I decided to look him up. According to Wikipedia:

“Faure died suddenly from apoplexy in the Élysée Palace on 16 February 1899, while engaged in sexual activities in his office with 30-year-old Marguerite Steinheil. It has been widely reported that Felix Faure had his fatal seizure while Steinheil was fellating him, but the exact nature of their sexual intercourse is unknown and such reports may have stemmed from various jeux de mots (puns) made up afterward by his political opponents.

“One such pun was to nickname Mme Steinheil “la pompe funèbre” (wordplay in French: “pompes funèbres” means “death care business” and “pompe funèbre” could be translated, literally, as “funeral pump“). George Clemenceau’s epitaph of Faure, in the same trend, was “Il voulait être César, il ne fut que Pompée” (another wordplay in French; could mean both “he wished to be Caesar, but ended up as Pompey”, or “he wished to be Caesar and ended up being blown“: the verb “pomper” in French is also slang for performing oral sex on a man); Clemenceau, who was also editor of the newspaper L’Aurore, wrote that “upon entering the void, he [Faure] must have felt at home.”

I don’t know too much else about Faure, but he also kind of sounds like a jerk:

“In 1898 (and for the first few years of the following century) the French automobile industry was the largest in the world. President Faure was not impressed. Invited to address industry leaders at what, in restrospect [sic], is recorded as the first Paris Motor Show, Faure told his audience, “Your cars are very ugly and they smell very bad” (“Vos voitures sont bien laides et sentent bien mauvais!”)”


“The French barque President Felix Faure, named for the President, was involved in a 1908 case of shipwreck at the Antipodes Islands, south of New Zealand, the survivors being stranded for sixty days before being rescued.

Well, that’s fairly symbolic. Not a great legacy all ’round.

His mistress, Marguerite Steinheil, meanwhile, seemed to recover okay. She was the wife of the famous French artist Adolphe Steinheil and after Faure’s death, she became the mistress of several other important men of the day (if anyone has a list, it would be much appreciated).

This drawing of the fantastically, super-humanly bored Marguerite Steinheil was drawn in 1909 by George Scott:


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One Response to Félix Faure

  1. Pingback: BizarreVictoria: Celebrating 4 Years | BizarreVictoria

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