Cecile Furtado-Heine – Biographical Note
April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
It is worthwhile to provide the following biographical note about the sitter in the previously mentioned Hermann Winterhalter’s portrait of Mme Furtado-Heine.
Mlle Cécile Charlotte Furtado (Paris 6 March 1821 – Rocquencourt 10 December 1896) was a daughter of Elie Furtado, the chief rabbi of Bayonne, and Rose Fould, a daughter of Beer Léon Fould, banker and the mayor of Rocquencourt. She married in 1838 Charles Heine (1810-1865), a scion of a rich banking dynasty and first cousin of the poet Heinrich (Henri) Heine (1797-1856).
Mme Furtado-Heine was chiefly known for her philanthropy in the areas of medicine, education, and religion. During the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, she supported the Red Cross and the ambulance services; and in 1895 she bequeathed her villa in Nice as a hospital and sanatorium for wounded and convalescent soldiers. In 1884 she founded and endowed an orphanage in the 14th Arrondissement on the street which was renamed Rue Furtado-Heine in her honour after her death, as well as similar children’s establishments in Bayone and Montrouge.
She was a generous donor to the Institut Pasteur, and her commemorative bust still adorns the halls of the Institute. Mme Furtado-Heine also generously contributed to numerous Jewish charities and benevolent organisations; and financially supported the building of new synagogues in France and Belgium.
Her charitable and philanthropic endeavours were recognised by the Government of France, and in 1896 she became the Officer of the Legion d’Honneur, a distinction very rare for a woman in the nineteenth century.
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013