Joséphine de Lavalette de Forget was the daughter of Antoine-Marie Chamans de Lavalette, Comte d’Empire and Louise de Beauharnais, niece of the Empress.
The major event of her childhood - when she was thirteen - was to help her father escape after he had been condemned to death for supporting the Emperor during his attempt to restore the Empire during the Hundred Days. She was thirty-four when her husband died, and she moved to the Rue de Matignon, then the Hôtel de la Rochefoucauld in Paris, where Delacroix often came to visit. She entertained a great deal and introduced the painter into the Parisian salons. They maintained an extensive correspondence from 1832 to 1863, and had an affair that lasted from 1834 to 1850, then transformed into a deep friendship. Delacroix called her his "consuelo," his consoler; he did a pencil portrait of her (Musée Boymans van Beuningen).
There is also a medal of her by David d’Angers (1847) and a portrait painted by Horace Vernet (1769-1863), now in the Musée de Blois.