George Sand (French, 1804-1876), born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, was France’s most famous 19th century female writers. She produced a large number of novels and plays, a massive two-volume autobiography, stories, essays, and articles- and published them all under the male pseudonym of George Sand.
Sand or the “Good Lady of Nohant” as she was called after the town outside Paris where she had a home, was also the famous lover of the celebrated Chopin, with whom in 1838 she travelled arduously to Mallorca in search of a cure for his ill health. Indeed most of the notable artistic figures of the day became Sand’s friend and/or lover: Franz Liszt, Flaubert, Balzac, Baudelaire, Sainte-Beuve, Alfred de Vigny, Chateaubriand, and Zola, along with writers from other countries, Heinrich Heine, Henry James, Browning (and his wife), Dostoevsky, and Turgenev. Painters were also part of her circle as well, especially Eugène Delacroix who visited Nohant regularly and would make numerous studies there.
Sand’s rebelliousness began early with a scandalous love affair with one of the most famous and beautiful actresses of the Parisian stage, Marie Dorval. They had met in January 1833, when Sand was in her late twenties and Dorval in her mid-thirties. Sand continued to shock her contemporaries by dressing as a man and smoking in public at a time when these practices were wholly unacceptable for women.
Professionally, Sand participated in a wide range of activities: journalistic, political, theatrical, and literary. She was also a skilled draughtswoman and painter: her work, on permanent display in the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris, is highly accomplished.
In the early 1870s, near the end of a life filled with artistic production, Sand became inspired by a certain method of applying watercolor which she would call “dendrite” or “aquarelle à l’écrasage.” She would prepare a paper with spots of color and then press a heavier paper on top. When she pulled one away from the other, the spots of color would transfer, creating a texture similar to branches of trees or bushes. Hence the term dentrite, Greek for tree. Well known in France, this work is rarely seen in the United States.