The Hector Berlioz Website

Berlioz Photo Album : Berlioz’s family

    Unless otherwise stated all pictures on Berlioz Photos pages have been scanned from engravings, paintings, postcards and other publications in our own collection. All rights of reproduction reserved.

    This section includes portraits of some members of Berlioz’s parental and marital families. Included on this page are Berlioz’s grandfather, father, his elder sister Nancy Pal, his younger sister Adèle Suat and her husband Marc Suat, the Berlioz family’s housekeeper Monique Nety, Berlioz’s uncle Félix Marmion, his nieces Mathilde Pal, Joséphine Suat and Nancy Suat, his first wife Harriet Smithson and second wife Marie Recio, and his son Louis. For the family relationships see also the Berlioz family tree in the section on La Côte Saint-André.
    Unless otherwise stated, the original copies of the pictures in this section are in the Hector Berlioz Museum, La Côte Saint-André.

    One section on this site is devoted to the many Letters of the composer’s family at the Hector Berlioz Museum (in French, with introduction in English). This includes a large number of letters of individuals whose portraits are shown below: his father Dr Louis-Joseph Berlioz (5 letters), his elder sister Nancy Pal (29 letters) and her husband Camille Pal (10 letters), his younger sister Adèle Suat (123 letters) and her husband Marc Suat (4 letters), the Berlioz family’s housekeeper Monique Nety (1 letter), his uncle Félix Marmion (18 letters), his two nieces Joséphine Suat (10 letters) and Nancy Suat (17 letters), his first wife Harriet Smithson (4 letters) and his second wife Marie Recio (2 letters). The Museum also has a large collection of letters of Hector Berlioz himself and his son Louis. A chronological listing of Berlioz’s letters at the Museum (over 400 in all) is provided on a separate page. Numerous excerpts from the composer’s letters, to members of his family as well as to other correspondents, are cited in English translation as well as in the original French on many pages of this site (see the separate index of these letters).

Section 1: Parental family


Louis-Joseph Berlioz, Hector’s grandfather (1747-1815)
Louis-Joseph Berlioz


    Berlioz’s grandfather was born in the family home at La Côte Saint-André.
    The above picture is courtesy of Alexandre Moulin et al., La Côte Saint André en Isère (Gillonnay: Alexandre Moulin, 2005).


Dr Louis-Joseph Berlioz, Hector’s father (1776-1848)
Louis-Joseph Berlioz

    This portrait is attributed to Berlioz’s father in 1802, at the age of 26. The young Dr Berlioz married Mlle Marie-Antoinette-Joséphine Marmion at Meylan, near Grenoble, on 7 February 1803. The couple lived in his home at La Côte Saint-André where their first son Hector was born on 11 December 1803.
    The above picture is courtesy of Alexandre Moulin et al., La Côte Saint André en Isère (Gillonnay: Alexandre Moulin, 2005).


Dr Berlioz c. 1840
Dr Berlioz


Nanci (Nancy) Pal, Hector’s elder sister (1806-1850)

    Nancy was three years younger than Berlioz and was the older of his two surviving sisters. Berlioz constantly referred to her as Nanci, though her name was actually Nancy, and that is how she called herself (her own letters are always signed Nancy).


Coloured lithograph by V. Cassien
[Victor Désiré Cassien (1808-1893)]

    The above picture is scanned from an exhibition catalogue entitled, Hector Berlioz, L’aventure musicale. Une exposition de la Bibliothèque municipale de Grenoble, 13 septembre-15 novembre, 2003 (facing page 69). An original copy of the lithograph is in the Bibliothéque municipale de Grenoble. Inventory: Pd.1 Berlioz (Nanci).
    Our two copies of this catalogue have been donated to the Hector Berlioz Museum.


Notice for the death and funeral of Camille Pal, Nancy’s husband in 1879

(Large view)


Adèle Suat, Hector’s younger sister (1814-1860)

    From 1845 onwards Adèle lived with her husband Marc Suat and her two daughters, Joséphine and Nancy, in Vienne, on the Rhone south of Lyon.


Adèle Suat


Marc Suat, Adèle's husband (1799-1869)
Marc Suat

    Marc Suat, a lawyer in Saint-Chamond, married Adèle on 2 April 1839. The couple settled at Saint-Chamond where their two children were born, then moved in May 1845 to Vienne.
    The above picture is courtesy of the Hector-Berlioz Museum in La Côte-Saint-André.


Monique Nety (1792-1857)

    Monique Nety was the much-loved housekeeper of the Berlioz family, and was in their service for many years until her death in 1857.
    Monique Nety’s photo and Adèle Suat’s second picture are courtesy of H Berlioz, épisodes de la vie d’un artiste (Grenoble, Glénat / Musée Hector Berlioz, 2003), edited by Chantal Spillemaecker, formerly director of the Musée Hector-Berlioz; we are most grateful to her.

Colonel Félix Marmion, Berlioz’s maternal uncle (1787-1869)
Félix Marmion


Mathilde Pal, Nancy’s daughter (1833-1903)


Joséphine Suat, Adèle’s elder daughter (1840-1919

    Joséphine married Auguste Chapot in Vienne on 10 September 1867; her uncle Berlioz was one of her witnesses on this occasion. Auguste Chapot died on 16 August 1892, and Joséphine was thus a widow when she attended with her two sons Henri and Victor the inauguration of Berlioz’s monument in Monaco in 1903.


Nancy Suat, Adèle’s younger daughter (1842-1880)
Nanci Suat

    As with his sister Nancy Pal, Berlioz insisted on calling his niece Nancy Suat, Adèle’s younger daughter, Nanci instead of her real name Nancy, with which she regularly signed her own letters. The original copies of the photos of Berlioz’s nieces are in the collection of the Association nationale Hector Berlioz, based on the premises of the Berlioz Museum. 


Section 2: Marital family

2.1 Harriet Constance Smithson (1800-1854), Berlioz’s first wife

    Berlioz first saw Harriet Smithson in September 1827 at the Théâtre de l’Odéon playing in Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, in the roles of Ophelia and Juliet respectively. That was the start of a long and complex relationship which is outlined in the page devoted to that theatre. On his return from Italy in 1832 Berlioz and Harriet Smithson met for the first time after a concert he gave at the Conservatoire on 9 December; they eventually married on 3 October 1833 at the British Embassy in Paris. Berlioz always called her Henriette and not Harriet; she was his Ophelia. Their early years were happy despite constant financial worries (see the page on Montmartre), but the marriage eventually broke apart in the early 1840s and ended in separation in 1844 (Memoirs chapter 51), though Berlioz continued to visit and support Harriet to the end.

    Harriet died on 3 March 1854 at her own home at no. 12 Rue Saint-Vincent in Montmartre, not far from the house where she and Berlioz lived at the beginning of their married life over 20 years earlier. She was buried in Saint-Vincent Cemetery, and later, in 1864, as a result of the plans for restructuring of the cemetery, her remains were moved to Montmartre Cemetery.

Harriet Smithson in 1819
Harriet Smithson

    The above engraving is by I. Thomson from an original painting by Rose Emma Drummand. It was published in London by John Bell in April 1819.


Harriet Smithson in 1819
Harriet Smithson

    This engraving is by Hopwood after a painting by Rose Emma Drummand.

Harriet Smithson in 1820
Harriet Smithson

    An original copy of this engraving is in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.


Harriet Smithson

    The above picture was published in The Musical Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 4, October 1949 (facing page 552). The original painting is by the British portrait painter George Clint (1800-1854).
    See also elsewhere on this site an original colour portrait of Harriet Smithson, also by George Clint. That painting was acquired by us in 2015 for the benefit of the Musée Hector-Berlioz.


Harriet Smithson in 1827
Harriet Smithson

    This lithograph is by Devéria, published in a 19th century book in our collection. A copy exists in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris and another in the Musée Hector-Berlioz.


Harriet Smithson in c. 1828
Harriet Smithson

    The above mezzotint is by G Maile, after an oil painting by Claude-Marie Dubufe. The original painting is in the Musée Magnin in Dijon, France.


Harriet Smithson c. 1834
Harriet Smithson

    The original copy of the above painting is in a private collection.

    A few months before Harriet Smithson appeared at the Théâtre de l’Odéon in Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, she had played the role of Zamora in Honey Moon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London. The following poster announces the details.


Honey Moon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
30 June 1827


Honey Moon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – close up view


2.2 Marie-Geneviève Martin, alias Marie Recio (1814-1862), Berlioz’s second wife

    The beginnings of Berlioz’s relationship with the singer Marie Recio go back to the early 1840s; in September 1842 they travelled together to Brussels for Berlioz’s first musical excursion outside France, and she followed him on many of his travels subsequently (Memoirs chapter 51, though Marie Recio is never named in the Memoirs). They eventually married on 19 October 1854, after the death of Harriet Smithson; the marriage took place in the Trinity Church in Paris. Berlioz wrote to his son Louis at the time that it was his duty to do so. Marie died in 1862; both her and Harriet are buried with Berlioz at the Montmartre Cemetery.

Young Marie Recio
Marie Recio

© Musée Hector-Berlioz

    The above portrait is part of a legacy to the Musée Hector-Berlioz by the Reboul family (descendents of Berlioz’s sister Nancy). We are most grateful to the Museum for granting us permission to reproduce it on this page.


Marie Recio

    A copy of this photo is in the Musée Hector-Berlioz.


Marie Recio

    The above engraving is made after the forementioned photo. The image has been scanned from Adolphe Jullien’s biography of Berlioz, Hector Berlioz, sa vie et ses œuvres (Paris, 1888).


2.3. Louis-Thomas Berlioz (1834-1867), Hector’s son

    Berlioz’s only child, named after his father Dr Louis Berlioz, was born on 14 August 1834 in Montmartre. Berlioz’s younger sister Adèle and his friend Gounet were Louis’ godparents. As a young man Louis decided on a career as a sailor; he joined the merchant navy and rose to the rank of commander. One of the ships under his command was La Louisiane. He died on 5 June 1867 of yellow fever while on duty at Havana. His death dealt a devastating blow to his father.


Louis Berlioz

    A copy of the above lithograph, dated around 1863-64, is in the Musée Hector-Berlioz.




© (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the texts and images on Berlioz Photo Album pages.
All rights of reproduction reserved.


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