CM: Henri de Régnier (1864-1936) was a French symbolist poet considered one of the foremost of France during the early 20th century.
Henri François Joseph de Régnier was born at Honfleur (Calvados) on 28 December 1864 of an old Norman family. Régnier began to prepare for a career as a diplomat, but while studying law in Paris he came under the influence of the Symbolist poets. In 1885 he began to contribute to the Parisian reviews, and his verses found their way into most of the French and Belgian periodicals favorable to the symbolist writers. Having begun, however, to write under the leadership of the Parnassians, he retained the classical tradition, though he adopted some of the innovations of Jean Moréas and Gustave Kahn. His gorgeous and vaguely suggestive style shows the influence of Stéphane Mallarmé, of whom he was an assiduous disciple. His first volume of poems, Lendemains (Tomorrows), appeared in 1885, and among numerous later volumes are Poèmes Anciens et Romanesques (Ancient and Romanseque Poems) in 1890; Les Jeux Rustiques et Divins (Tough and Divine Games) in 1897; Les Médailles d'Argile (Clay Medals) in 1900; La Cité des Eaux (The City of Water) in 1903; and La Sandale Aailée (The Winged Sandal) in 1906. He is also the author of a series of realistic novels and tales, among which are La Canne de Jaspe (2nd ed., 1897), La Double Maîtresse (5th ed., 1900), Les Vacances d'un Jeune Homme Sage (1903), and Les Amants Singuliers (1905). In 1896 De Régnier married Marie de Heredia, daughter of the eminent poet José María de Heredia, and herself a novelist and poet publishing under the name of Gérard d'Houville. Influenced by his father-in-law, Régnier abandoned his earlier free and relatively uncontrolled writing style in favor of more classical forms. For his themes, however, he continued to draw on the concerns of the Symbolists. He also wrote a number of novels, generally evoking a time and place in the past, particularly 14th and 18th century Italy and France: La Double Maîtresse (The Double Lover) in 1900; La Peur de l'Amour (Fear of Love) in 1907; La Pécheresse (The Sinner) in 1912; and Le Voyage d'Amour (The Voyage of Love) in 1930.
A man of aristocratic bearing and tastes, Régnier became an important figure in French intellectual society in the years following the turn of the century. In 1911 he was elected to the Académie Française. Henri de Régnier died in Paris on 23 May 1936 at age 71 and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Théo van Rysselberghe's Portrait of Henri de Régnier with Monacle is at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, while a drawing of the same sitter is at the Carlton Lake Art Collection of the Harry Ransom Center, Texas.