Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867) The cenotaph of Charles-Pierre Baudelaire by Jose de Charmoy depicts the poet brooding over a gauze-encased body. In the year before his death, Baudelaire, resting in a nursing home and left all but mute from advanced syphilis, nevertheless enjoyed some respite from his deepening depression. He took special pleasure in his many visitors, in Berthe Morisot’s playing Wagner on the piano, and in the numerous flowers which grew in the yard outside the home. His condition also allowed his mother, Caroline, one last chance to play a maternal role and thereby attempt a long overdue reconciliation. According to his mother, Baudelaire died with a smile on his lips.
From the portfolio “Permanent Parisians” in issue 99, Spring 1986.