Mérode, Cléo de

BORN 27 Sep 1875, Paris - DIED 17 Oct 1966, Paris: 15 Rue de Téhéran
BIRTH NAME Mérode, Cléopatra Diane de
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 90, avenue transversale no 3, ligne 3)

Cléo de Mérode may have been the daughter of the Austrian painter of Belgian descent Karl von Merode (1853-1909) and an actress from Vienna, but it seems more likely that she was a daughter of Karl's elder sister Vincentia von Mérode (1850-1899) from an affair with a man from Spain. Vincentia was a daughter of Ferdinand Vincenz von Merode (1803-1868) and her name is on Cléo's grave at Père Lachaise in Paris. Cléo was born in Paris, Bordeaux or Biarritz.

She studied dance at the Opera in Paris from her seventh year and she debuted aged eleven. She had a glamorous career and her picture was on many postcards. The sculpture "The Dancer" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) by A. Falguière was modelled on her.

In 1896 king Leopold II of Belgium saw her as Phrynee in the ballet company of the opera of Bordeaux and it was reported that she became his mistress. He was 66 at the time. There was no evidence of an affair except a bouquet of red roses, but their so called affair was widely publicized. The scandal didn't stop her from becoming an international star. She toured Europe and the United States and she danced at the Folies Bergères, a thing that most serious dancers didn't dare.

In Vienna she attracted the attention of Gustav Klimt. In 1926 she appeared in the German movie "Frauen der Leidenschaft". She danced until she was fifty and then she retired to Biarritz. In 1955 she published an autobiography, "La Ballet de ma vie".

Related persons
• was painted by Boldini, Giovanni
• was painted by Kaulbach, Friedrich August von
• knew Klimt, Gustav
• has a connection with Leopold II, king of Belgium
• was photographed by Nadar


The grave of Cléo de Mérode at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (06 Mar 1995)


• Elgklou, Lars, Koninklijke minnaars en minnaressen, Echtscheidingen, bastaardkinderen, bigamie, verhoudingen, Standaard, Antwerpen, 1985
Cléo de Mérode - Wikipedia
Merode (eig. Bauer), Familie Philipp Johann:

Merode, Karl, Freiherr von

Published: 24 Mar 2008
Last update: 19 May 2022