Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Royal memorabilia from the Abbey St Louis-du-Temple Vauhallan


The Abbey of St Louis-du-Temple at Limon in the commune of Vauhallan near Meudon has a special connection with the last days of the French royal family.  The community of Benedictine nuns was founded in 1816 by a prominent member of the exiled royal family, Louise-Adélaïde de Bourbon-Condé, daughter of the prince de Condé, and was originally located in the Temple precinct.  

The modern abbey, which was begun in 1950, contains a small museum of prints, portraits, letters and memorabilia arranged around the foundress's tomb.  Many of them were personal gifts to the congregation during the Restoration from Marie-Thérèse of France, duchess of Angoulême.  

Museum of the Abbey St Louis-du-Temple Vauhallan :
Above:  Relics of Louise-Adélaïde de Bourbon-Condé, foundress of the abbey
Below: Cabinet containing a statue and memorabilia of Marie-Antoinette


Here are some highlights:

Portraits of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

Two oils by Jean-Baptiste-Francois Battaglini, the first a copy of Danloux's painting of Louis XVI  writing his Testament, now in Versailles, and the second depicting Marie-Antoinette in the Conciergerie.   The two pictures were bought by the duchesse d'Angoulême at the Salons of 1819 and 1822 respectively and presented to the Convent.



Rug created by Marie-Antoinette and Madame Elisabeth 

The work, which was intended for the Throne Room of the Tuileries Palace, was begun in 1791 and probably continued in the Temple. It is described as a tapisserie  but it is stitched on canvas, so in English it would be a needlepoint. 

 The  canvas and wools were furnished by Mademoiselle Dubuquoy-Lalouette, a long-standing royal supplier, who was also able to bring out the worked squares and keep them safe until the Restoration.  I thought at first it was just a little thing; but it isn't - it is absolutely massive.The duchesse d'Angoulême planned to divide the various portions between the chapel at Versailles, the Chapelle Expiatoire,  the Church of St. Geneviève and the nuns of the Temple. Not all the pieces reached their destinations. Apart from this one, there survives a large piece at Versailles which Mlle Dubuquoy assembled and supplied with an embroidered edge:
http://elisabeth.yvelines.fr/oeuvres-et-lieux/tapis-dit-de-marie-antoinette-1791-1793-marie-antoinette-et-madame-elisabeth/

A small very well-preserved framed fragment was sold by Drouot in December 2008.
Drouot, Sale of 17th December 2008 [Lot 111]
http://s309339927.onlinehome.fr/PDF/2008/16_SH_17dec.pdf

There are various other pieces of needlework by either Marie-Antoinette or the duchesse d'Angoulême, including this chair cover:



 A jug used by Louis XVII in the Temple


References

Website of the Abbey St-Louis-du-Temple http://www.abbaye-limon-vauhallan.com/

"Eductour" with photos, Office de Tourisme de Savigny sur Orge
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.618163781631653.1073741923.381241841990516&typhttp://s309339927.onlinehome.fr/PDF/2008/16_SH_17dec.pdfe=1

Account of a visit to Vauhallan by the Association Louis XVII
http://louisxvii.chez.com/Files/548_vauhallan.pdf

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Temple - en 3D




Watch the infamous Temple tower rise once more against the skyline of modern Paris!

Grez Productions is a small media company which specialises in 3D virtual reconstructions of historic buildings.  Their images have appeared in a number of high-profile French TV programmes and they have worked on several far-flung sites (Leptis Magna in Libya, Koh Ker in Cambodia and Tenochtitlan in Mexico) but their main focus is Paris. To mark  the  journées du Patrimoine of 20th-21st September 2014,  Le Point released a series of seven videos based on their work featuring the lost Gallo-Roman or Medieval landmarks of the French capital. Several of these buildings - the Bastille, the Grand Châtelet, the Temple - disappeared only in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period. The Grez  website also features an interesting set of reconstructions of the Temple area in about 1802, when it functioned as a market.  Among the lesser known buildings recreated are the  Rotunda of the Temple built in 1788 by the architect Perrard de Montreuil to house shops and commercial concerns and the wooden hangars erected early in the 19th century to accommodate a rag and second-hand clothes market.


References

GREZ Productions website:
The Temple tower in 1785 (BnF)
http://www.grezprod.com/
Reconstruction of the Temple enclosure
http://www.grezprod.com/recons-Temple.html 

Le Point dossier: Visite virtuelle dans le Paris disparu
http://www.lepoint.fr/dossiers
/culture/visite-virtuelle-paris-disparu/

See also:
Association Historique du Temple de Paris
http://www.templedeparis.fr/



Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Louis XVI's cravat



Here is yet another item of royal clothing ...a scarf (foulard) worn by Louis XVI during his imprisonment in the Temple, auctioned on the anniversary of his death, 21st January, in 2004. The sale was handled by the Touraine auction house of Philippe Rouillac and took place in the relatively modest venue of the salle d'honneur of the town hall in Loche.  Interest was keen and rival telephone bids escalated the final sale price to a massive 70,000 !  (The reserve was a mere 5,000 )  The lucky buyers are said to have been an American family of French descent who made their purchase in order to draw attention to the part played by Louis XVI in bringing about American independence.  They wished to remain anonymous and  have done so pretty successfully - I certainly haven't managed to find any clues.

The scarf itself is a plain piece of white muslin, 160 cm by 76 cm, yellowed and badly darned - maybe by the hand of Marie-Antoinette herself. In eighteenth-century terms, it is not really a scarf, but a cravat: as M. Rouillac explained,  "It was worn as a jabot [frill], after being knotted several times around the neck, and could also be tied at the same time around the neck and the waist, with the material going up the back".



A royal gift 

It is worth reading the evidence about provenance carefully as the summaries in the various news reports are not very accurate. A note attached to the scarf as part of the lot, gives this slightly misleading information:

Cravat which belonged to king Louis XVI. He detached it from his throat on his departure for execution and gave it to Monsieur Vincent as a keepsake and reward, having nothing else in his possession. Mr Vincent too died on the scaffold.

It is easy to assume from this that the cravat was the one Louis XVI is reported to have taken off together with his jacket at the very foot of the guillotine and that "Mr Vincent" was present in the crowd.  This is not the case.

A reference in Cléry's journal situates the incident exactly and identifies Vincent. He was one of the "muncipaux", the rotating set of commissioners of the Paris Commune, four at any one time, who were in  attendance on the Royal Family throughout their captivity in the Temple.  It was the morning of the 27th December, during the King's trial, and Cléry was helping him to dress.  On the previous day, the 26th, Louis had appeared for the second time at the bar of the Convention.  Cléry mentions that the commissioners on duty, Toulan, Vincent and Cailleux had performed the small kindness of going to warn the Queen of his departure.  Louis now requested that they take copies of his defence, which had been printed, to his wife and sister.

The Commissioner, Vincent, a builder, who had rendered every service in his power to the Royal Family, undertook to convey a copy of it secretly to the Queen.  When the King was thanking him for executing this little commission, he availed himself of the opportunity to ask His Majesty for something which he might keep as having belonged to him.  The King untied his cravat, and made him a present of it. 
Cléry Journal (English version, London: 1798), p.200

Following Vincent's death, his widow remarried and the relic remained in the family, annotated and carefully preserved under glass, down to 2004, when a dispute over inheritance precipitated the decision to sell.


Jean-Baptiste Vincent (1758-1794) - compassionate Revolutionary

Miniature portrait of Vincent,
included in the lot with the cravat
There is not a lot of information available about Jean-Baptiste Vincent but what little there is confirms the plausibility of Cléry's account.  He was an Elector of 1792 and a member of the General Council of the Commune of 10th August, representing the section de  l'Indivisibilité, formerly the section des Fédérés which covered the northern Marais. He himself specified that he had taken the place of a fellow citizen who had been killed. In 1793 he was listed as a native of Mouthier St-Jean, in the département of the Côte-d'Or, as 36 years old and as currently residing at 65 rue des Tournelles. His office is variously given as entrepreneur de bâtiments and agent de la grosse artillerie. He was in fact the mason in charge of  the construction of canon foundries in the Place des Vosges  (Place de l'Indivisibilité), a major project since no less than sixty-four forges were to be sited around the grille of the 17th-century square.  It is clear that Vincent was neither a Revolutionary ideologue nor a militant sans-culotte, but, like the printer Baudouin, a professional in the service of his country.

In October 1793 Vincent's kindness towards the royal family  brought him into danger when he was named as a suspect in the conspiration de l'oeillet, an abortive plot to rescue Marie-Antoinette from the Conciergerie.  He was arrested and taken to La Force where he was held in a dungeon for five days before being transferred to the Luxembourg to languish for a further month.  His house was searched and his papers placed under seals.  His colleague at the Temple François-André Toulan was implicated in the affair and executed. Vincent maintained desperately that his own indictment rested solely on the word of  "the young Capet, an infant without discernment". The National Archives preserves letters both from Vincent himself, his pregnant wife and from Bernard Poyet, the architect overseeing the foundries, all asking that he be granted access to his work schedules and allowed to give the necessary directions.  The Committee of Public Safety reiterated his importance for the production of arms. Nonetheless, Vincent must have counted himself fortunate to be acquitted.

Sadly, Jean-Baptiste Vincent was not to remain alive for long. He was soon to be caught up in Revolutionary events. He was among the seventy-one members of the Commune executed on 11th Thermidor in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Robespierre.  It is noted that on the night of the 9th-10th Thermidor he emerged reluctantly from his bureau, and only briefly entered the Commune where he signed the list of those present, the ninety-first and last name.  He returned home and gave himself up the next morning to the Committee of General Security; he was sent to the Conciergerie "without regard for explanations" and went to the guillotine on the 11th.

And so it was that, like the affable Louis, "Mr Vincent too died on the scaffold".

See

Albert Soboul, Raymond Monnier, Répertoire du personnel sectionnaire parisien en l'an II (1985) [extracts on Google Books]

Répertoire général des sources manuscrites de l'histoire de Paris pendant la révolution française, vol. 10
https://archive.org/stream/rpertoiregn10tuetuoft#page/20/mode/2up



References

Sale notice: Maison Rouillac, "Souvenirs historiques de la Maison de France", Wednesday 21st January 2004 at the  Hôtel de Ville, Loches.
http://www.rouillac.com/da-FR-9-67-26511-grid-0-lot

"Le foulard de Louis XVI mis aux enchères" (Revue de presse)
http://chrysopee.net/Nephilim/index.php?
rub=0&art=Affiche_Article&ID=190&PHPSESSID=2767a6384db962390a3b1a4b343e4e84


"Le foulard de Louis XVI vendu 70.000" (AFP notice)

 The Scotsman must win some sort of prize for garbled reporting with this:
"Louis XVI gave the scarf to a fellow prisoner, Monsieur Vincent, on 21 January, 1793, as he was leaving his cell to be led to the scaffold for execution in what is now the Place de la Concorde. Vincent, a Paris councillor and owner of a building company, met the same fate a month later after he was accused of hiding the royal relic."
http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/louis-xvi-s-scarf-fetches-a-record-163-52-000-1-509883

Monday, 20 April 2015

More relics of the Temple - Collection Beauchesne


I'm more of a robespierriste myself but relics of the royal family in their final days have a strange fascination.  Yet more memorabilia went under the hammer in March this year, when Drouot auctioned the collection of the Vicomte Alcide-Hyacinthe du Bois de Beauchesne (1804-1873), Gentleman of the Court of Louis XVIII, and author of the first systematic investigation into the fate of Louis XVII [Louis XVII, sa vie son agonie et sa mort: captivité de la famille royale au Temple, 1853].  An important part of the collection relating to  the royal family was bequeathed  by the widow of  Jean-Baptiste Gomin (1757-1841) who had been assistant to Laurent as guard of the children of France at the Temple between 8th November 1794 and 29th March 1795, and subsequently accompanied Madame Royal to Huningue in Basel in December 1795 to be handed over to the Austrians.

Although many of the items exceeded their estimated value, the sale suggests that the big money at auction in France is still being made by autographs.  Beauchesne's papers included many letters from  famous 19th-century figures which did well;  Beethoven fared best - his signature (Lot 2) made a whopping 46,000 €!

Here are some of the more interesting items:

Lot 147: Autograph letter signed Marie-Antoinette 



 Letter, dated 2 October ?,  addressed to either the duchesse de Polignac or princesse de Lamballe.  The signature is a rarity - Marie-Antoinette usually left her notes unsigned or just initialed them. This lot fetched 18,500 € against an estimate of 3,000-5,000 €; quite impressive but not quite as much as Beethoven!

Lot 150:  Fragment of a sheet from the bed of Marie Antoinette in the Temple prison  
Lot 151:  Fragment of a pink silk robe de chambre belonging to Marie-Antoinette

1,600 € and 3,000 € respectively
.
A fair sum for tiny pieces of fabric!  Lot 151 also included a travelling card of the "Comte de Falkenstein", the alias adopted by the Emperor Joseph II when visiting the French Court incognito in 1777.

 Lot 163:  Engraving of Louis XVI by G. Keating incorporating a fragment of the coat he wore to his execution on 21st January 1793. 3500 €



Lot 173:  Autograph text of LOUIS-CHARLES, prince de France, duc de Normandie (1785-1795) - dating from the time of his captivity in the Temple.



 Handwriting exercise consisting of 4 pages of transcription of a text concerning the history of the French Reformation.  Corrected in red by the hand of Louis XVI.  Fetched within its estimate at 11,500€

Folded envelopes containing locks of hair belonging to:  

Louis XVI (Lot 165) - 4,800 
Louis XVII (Lot 174)  - 2,700 €
Marie-Thérèse, Madame Royale (Lot 187) - 1,000 €
Madame Elisabeth (Lot 204) - 1,600 



Lot 189: Verses composed by Marie-Thérèse, princesse de France (Madame Royale) during her captivity in the Temple in the summer of 1795. 3,200 



Lot 193:  Marie-Thérèse's account of her capitivity and exchange (manuscript in the hand of the princess) 9,000 




Lot 217.  Letter from Louis XVI to the Archbishop of Paris Antoine-Éléonor-Léon Leclerc de Juigné, signed Louis and dated 22 July 1789. 



 Louis authorises the release of mutinous soldiers being held in the Abbaye prison in a display of "clemency" and conciliation towards the Revolutionary assembly.  A nice piece of evidence that Louis XVI was a reasonable sort of chap.....Unsold.

Lot 218: Tapestry embroidered by Marie-Antoinette and Madame Elisabeth during their captivity in the Temple. 

Tapestry (needlepoint?) created by by Marie-Antoinette and Madame Elisabeth (39 cm x 80 cm).  Coloured spots and pink bands on a black background. The ill-matched yarn show that it was worked with remnants of wool that the women had to hand in the Temple. The piece originally measured two metres long.  It was offered by the duchesse d'Angoulême, as a keepsake to the Baron Théodore Charlet and later cut into four fragments - all of which survive among the Baron's descendants.  A similar tapestry, intended for the  salle du trône at the Tuileries palaceis to be found in the abbey Saint-Louis du Temple at Vauhallan.
Estimated price (and reserve?) of 20,000 / 25,000 € -unsold.





References


Olivier Coutau-Bégarie  Noblesse & royauté. souvenirs historiques: archives sur l’histoire de France collection du Vicomte Alcide de Beauchesne (1804-1873) 
 - Exhibition catalogue
http://s309339927.onlinehome.fr/PDF/2015/02_SH_3_4mars2015.pdf
-  Summary of auction results (Bibliorare.com)
http://www.bibliorare.com/catalogue/coutau-begarie-noblesse-royaute-souvenirs-historiques-archives-sur-lhistoire-de-france-collection-du-vicomte-alcide-de-beauchesne-1804-1873-mardi-3-mars-2015-14h30-drouot-salle-7-paris/ 

Interview with Cyrille Boulay (first published in Divers, Sunday  1st Mars 2015)
http://www.vexilla-galliae.fr/actualites/divers/1251-exclusif-entretien-avec-cyrille-boulay-expert-en-art


Monday, 13 April 2015

A Masonic temple (Château de Mongenan)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:
Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Mongenan_Temple_ma%C3%A7onnique.JPG
This extraordinary surviving 18th-century Masonic temple may be visited at the Château de Mongenan at Portets near Bordeaux, which was owned by Louis XVI's last Foreign Minister Antoine-Claude Nicolas de Valdec de Lessart (1741-1792).  From the mid-century  temples were frequently set up in private aristocratic homes.  This one is said to have been in use from as early as 1750 and is described as an "itinerant temple", that is it was designed to be taken up and down - the furnishings include a painting of a starry sky which was erected when the scenery of the temple was put in place.  The equipment and paraphernalia belonged either to Valdec de Lessart himself or to his mistress, the celebrated courtesan Madame Grand, who was member of a female lodge. Also displayed is the apron of the famous alchemist and Mason, Count Cagliostro, who visited Bordeaux between November 1783 and October 1784 as a guest of the Marquis de Canolle.  The presence of two sarcophogi evoke Cagliostro's so-called Egyptian rite, which he tried without success to establish in Bordeaux. 


The temple proper is preceded by a chambre de réflexion  where neophytes were isolated prior to initiation, and which is furnished with various symbolic objects: a mirror, salt, sulphur and a metal cock (symbolising the element mercury)

The Château itself was constructed in 1736 by the architect Le Herissey for Valdec de Lessart's father the Baron Antoine de Gascq,  friend of Montesquieu and president of the Parlement of Guyenne, and has remained continuously in the family. The present owner Florence Mothe is a well known journalist. Described as a "folie", the property is a sort of  miniature fief complete with walled gardens, vineyard, farm, well, dovecote and communal oven.  There is much to see, including gardens inspired by Rousseau, and an important collection of paintings printed on fabric from the works of Jouy, Nantes and Beautiran.  The museum contains exhibits relating to the Compagnie des Indes (of which Valdec de Lessart was director between 1764 and 1792), souvenirs of the ministries of Necker and Calonne and a room dedicated to the Revolutionary period. 


References

Château de Mongenan website http://www.chateaudemonge
Some set of photographs: 
http://virjaja.over-blog.com/article-chateau-de-mongenan-50881898.html

http://www.citizenside.com/fr/photos/insolite/2011-07-20/40563/la-philosophie-positive-du-chateau-de-mongenan.html#f=0/279467

Article on Florence Mothe and her book Lieux symboliques en Gironde http://www.philosophe-inconnu.com/Livres/florence-mothe-lieux-symboliques-en-gironde.html

On early Freemasonry in Bordeaux: E.C. Ballard, "A cauldron of Masonic growth: 18th-century Bordeaux" The Hedge Mason post dated July 13th 2014
http://hedgemason.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/a-cauldron-of-masonic-growth-18th.html

Friday, 10 April 2015

François-Jean Baudouin - Revolutionary printer

On 24th June 1789 the National Assembly nominated one of its number "le sieur Baudouin, député suppléant de Paris" to replace the royal printer Philippe-Denis Pierre who had refused to serve the rebel Third Estate. Baudouin served as official printer throughout the Revolutionary period. His collected edition of decrees and edicts of the Revolutionary government from 1789 to 1795 have recently been made accessible on the internet thanks to a project funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR RevLoi).


It is one of the little ironies of the Revolution that this Baudouin was the son of  Pierre-Antoine Baudouin, miniaturist and boudoir artist - and that his maternal grandfather was that ultimate epitome of Ancien Régime artistic decadence  François Boucher! The Revolution, comments the ANR researchers,  "transformed his illustrious genealogy into something of a burden".

François-Jean Boudouin was born on 18th April 1759 and baptised in Paris, in the parish of St.Eustache.  Despite the popularity of his work, Pierre-Antoine made a poor living. When their son was three his parents consented that he should go to live with his uncle by marriage, the printer Michel Lambert.  In April 1776 he became his uncle's apprentice. He obtained his licence as a bookseller in May 1777 and in 1782 was admitted to the Corporation of Printers and became his uncle's partner. From 1784 both names appear on their output.  In 1784 he married Marie-Madeleine-Aglaé Carouge (1764-1816). The marriage settlement occasioned a bitter dispute,which Lambert recorded in a long printed memorandum. Further legal conflicts ensured involving the natural son of Lambert. Nonetheless, on the printer's death in 1787  Baudouin inherited his printing business and moved into premises in the rue de la Harpe.  His clients on the eve of Revolution included the Archbishop of Tours, the monks of Citeaux order and the Suffragen bishops. 

Michel Lambert was a prominent printer of the Enlightenment.  He is best known as Voltaire's editor  -  he was even suspected by the police inspector  d'Hémery of being Voltaire's son. He also printed Bayle's Dictionnaire, the works of Rousseau and  Diderot, as well as the Journal des SavantsJournal Encyclopédique, and Journal Etranger. Although his position as a Syndic de la Librairie afforded him a measure of protection, he was frequently the subject of police harrassment; in March 1763 he was obliged to close down his presses and in 1764 he was briefly imprisoned in the Bastille.  In 1776 Lambert and the sixteen-year old Baudouin were associated with a short-lived Commission instigated by Turgot to investigate the finances of the Imprimerie royale; in all probability it was this experience which informed Baudouin's later conviction that the role of official printer was a public duty rather than a private perquisite.  Baudouin made little money from his association with the Revolutionary government : much of his official work was offered free or at cost.  In 1805 he finally went bankrupt; the surprise, say the ANR researchers, is not that his business failed, but that he avoided bankruptcy for so long.

Baudouin was from the start sympathetic towards the Revolution.  He was elected as a "substitute" deputy of the Third Estate for Paris, although never obliged to take his seat. The Constituent Assembly made its contract with him on June 24th 1789, three days after its formation; he was able to place a hundred roller presses at his premises in Versailles in the avenue Saint-Cloud at the disposal of the Revolutionary government.  When the Assembly moved to Paris Baudouin secured accommodation within the enclosure of the Tuileries. He was a member of the Société des amis de la Constitution  and president of the Comité révolutionnaire of the Tuileries Section.  In old age he dissociated himself from the more radical policies of the Revolution - there are legends that he came to the aid of the Archbishop of Paris in Versailles  and later sheltered a fleeing Swiss Guard.. However, the records of the Tuileries Section  show his assiduous attendance; he passed revolutionary scrutiny and was entrusted with such responsible tasks as the movement of suspects. After Thermidor he was arrested and imprisoned in Vincennes then the Luxembourg, though the exact circumstances are unclear. The researchers conclude that Baudouin's loyalty to the Revolution was never in doubt; he welcomed the reform it promised and continued to fulfil his duty as official printer through the various vicissitudes of regime.

Following his bankruptcy, after an unsuccessful interlude as director of the Imperial printing works in St. Petersburg, Baudouin was employed in various government adminstrative roles and died, in relative poverty, in 1835.

References



"François-Jean Baudouin Itinéraire (1759-1835)"  Décrets et Lois 1789-1795 : Collection Baudouin (ANR RevLoi) http://collection-baudouin.univ-paris1.fr/f-j-baudouin/itineraire-de-vie-1759-1835/

"Baudouin" in Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et gens du livre à Paris (2007)
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=2txvEw-voiEC&source=gbs_navlinks_s


Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Dancer and the Freemason......1737

Like any secret society, the Freemasons from the first attracted the attentions of the inquisitive. The first significant revelation of Masonic secrets to the French public dates from 1737 when a piece entitled La réception d'un frey-maçon ("The reception of a Freemason") was published in the  La Gazette de Hollande.  The scandal erupted in mid-December 1737. The abbé Le Camus complained miserably on 28th December that  Freemasons were being pursued in the streets of Paris and that "garçons de boutique" were greeting them with their secret signs.

The piece was subsequently translated into English and published in the Gentlemen's Magazine (see below) 

The circumstances surrounding its appearance make a jolly story:

The secret of the Freemasons had been religiously guarded up until now, and perhaps nothing had contributed more to recommend their society.  The Government of England, that of France, that of Holland, the Inquisition in Rome, the late Grand Duke of Tuscany, several German Prince, had believed it  important to them to know the objective of this misterious association; but ,of all these respectable Powers, not one had succeeded.  The famous Carton of the Opera alone managed it.  A year ago, she took a fancy to discover the secret at whatever price it took.  There conveniently came her way a Freemason who asked her good graces.  She asked him in return to reveal to her the mysterious of his Order.  He refused for a long time to satisfy her demands; she in her turn refused to satisfy his.  The unfortunate Lover found himself in the position of Samson; he gave in.  The victorious Carton communicated her discovery to Monsieur Hérault, the Lieutenant General of Police and today she boasts that she has done better than Queen Elizabeth who could not extract a similar confidence from the Earl of Essex.
Antoine La Barre de Beaumarchais, Amusemens littéraires, vol. 1. (1741) p.6


Background - police activity in 1737

Early Freemasonry naturally made the authorities twitchy, quite apart from their inherent dislike of secret goings-on and uncontrolled social gatherings.  To begin with, at least, it was strongly associated with Jacobite émigrés, at a time when the French government under Fleury was seeking rapprochement with the Hanoverians.  The police interest also reflects the absolute monarchy's fears of the dangers it could incur from a "society admitting people of all states, conditions, religions, and in which may be found a large number of foreigners" In March 1737 Fleury wrote to Hérault instructing him to suppress assemblies of Freemasons, and on 14th September the Châtelet Court formally prohibited  associations of  "all persons, whatever their estate, quality and condition,".  In practice, the police mainly targeted the establishments where Masons met; "traiteurs, cabaretiers, aubergistes and others" who allowed Freemasons on their premises were to be fined 3000 livres.  Meetings were disturbed, at least two restaurants were closed down, and Parisian Masons complained miserably of the inconvenience of having to shift their supplies of champagne from place to place....
 It is in this context of low-level harassment that the Lieutenant General decided to payroll the inimitable Carton.....


Who was La Carton?

Considering she is consistently referred to as "la fameuse Carton" there is not much to go on. Marie Armabade Carton, "La Carton", also known as "Manon", was a dancer at the Paris Opera and was for many years the mistress of the banker Samuel Demard (d.1739) by whom she had three daughters. She was also among the many mistresses of the Maréchal de Saxe, war hero and Freemason - Maurepas recorded an undignified scrap which took place at the bal de l'Opéra in November 1734.when she  came to blows with her successor in the  Maréchal's affections.  .  In 1745 she is named as a potential recruit for the Order of Felicity..She was no spring-chicken; she is said to have been 55 at the time of the revelations concerning Freemasonry It is reeassuring to learn that she later retired to a comfortable and respectable life.



Who was her mysterious informer?


The Freemasons of Paris themselves were unsure. Philippe Chevallier in his book Les duc sous l'acacia (1994) cites a letter of 28th December 1737 in which the abbé Le Camus  accused a certain Mr le Noir de Cintre, though he noted that others claimed "it was an Englishman who had gained her favours"(p.115-6).  In a later letter he came up with another name: M. Paris de la Montagne  - a Mason who had demonstrated his untrustworthiness by failing to pay up for his champagne.

However, there is another plausible culprit.  An article published in the American Masonic journal Philalethes in 1994 gives the following account:

Herault decided to utilize the "talents" of Carton which, though long past her prime, were still considerable, to seduce a certain English aristocrat, Lord Kingston, an eminent English Freemason. Kingston, it seems, had seduced one of Carton's daughters causing the young girl to leave her husband and join Kingston in England. Herault believed Carton would be eager to avenge her daughter.  Thus, during a Paris visit by Kingston, a "chance" meeting with Carton was arranged and events moved swiftly. During private meetings, she alluded to knowing the Craft's secrets, being obtained from previous lovers. Totally captivated by her charms and the promise of  her "surrender," Kingston was induced to prove his own knowledge and reveal lodge ceremonies, upon which shedule "surrendered ."  When transmitted to the police, while the disclosures revealed lodge ceremonies, the alleged "great secret" was still missing and there was, of course, no  political agenda involved. Carton's daughter eventually returned to her husband, Carton herself retired in time to a comfortable and respectable life, Kingston died several years later of a disease apparently passed on by an unknown woman, and Fleury and Herault knew little more than previous informants had passed on.

William E. Parker, The Church and the craft  Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research and Letters June 1994
http://www.tntpc.com/252/philalethes/p94jun.html#THE CHURCH and THE CRAFT

The author, Mr William E. Parker, does not give his sources, but it is probably significant that one of his colleagues on Philalethes, Harry Church was quite a well known authority on early French Freemasonry; he even translated  La Réception d'un frey-maçon  into English (in a 1971 book, now virtually unobtainable, splendidly entitled The early French exposures). 



James King, 4th Baron Kingston
See: http://www.irishmasonichistory.com/
I haven't managed to find any real corroborating evidence for the Duke of Kingston's guilt, though the biographical details and the timing fit. James King, 4th Baron Kingston was certainly a prominent Freemason.  He was the son of an Irish peer who had followed James II into exile,and he himself had been born in France, though he successfully petitioned the English crown for naturalisation when still an infant, in 1707. He was sometimes referred to as a Jacobite sympathiser, though with little evidence.  He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England in 1729, and Grand Master of Ireland in 1731.  He also held Masonic offices in Lyon and, crucially, was around in Paris at the right time:  he is known to have been a member of the Lodge founded in 1735 or 1736 in the rue de Bussy with the duc d'Aumont as its Master, and which included such prominent figures as the English Ambassador Lord Waldegrave, the French Secretary of State the comte de Saint-Florentin and the philosopher Montesquieu.  He looks so sleek and complacent in his portrait that I'm inclined to believe the worst....

Here is the text:

The Secret of the Order of Free-Masons and the Ceremonies observed at the Reception of Members into it.
The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 8  (January 1738)

Paris January 13th

The prospective Freemason is first blindfolded and locked up for an hour in total darkness.  He is summoned by a series of knocks on the door

Person must be proposed in one of the Lodges by a Brother of the Society, as a good Subject; and when the latter obtains his Request, the Recipiendary is conducted by the Proposer, who becomes his Godfather, into one of the Chambers of the Lodge, where there is no Light, and there they ask whether he has a Calling to be received: He answers Yes. After which they ask him his Name, Sirname and Quality; take from him all Metals or Jewels which he may have about him, as Buckles, Rings, Boxes, &c. his Right Knee is uncovered, he wears his Left Shoe as a Slipper, then they blindfold him, and keep him in that Condition about an Hour, delivered up to his Reflections; after this, the Godfather goes and knocks three times at the Door of the Reception-Room, in which the venerable Grand-Master of the Lodge is, who answers by three Knocks from within, and orders the Door to be opened ; then the Godfather says, that a Gentleman by Name________ presents himself in order to be received.(Note, That both Outside and within this Chamber.several Brothers stand with their Swords drawn, in order to keep off profane People


He is taken on a series of perambulations round the lodge.  Resin is sprinking on a pan of live coals to create a sudden flare and startle him:


The Grand-Master, who has about his Neck a blue Ribband cut in a Triangle, says, Ask him whether he has the Calling?  The Godfather puts him the Question, and the Recipiendary having answered in the Affirmative, the Grand-Master orders him to be brought in: Then they introduce him, and make him take three Turns in the Room, round a sort of Ring on the Floor, in which they draw with a Pencil upon two columns a sort of Representaton of the Ruins of Solomon’s Temple, on each Side of that Space they also make with the Pencil a great I and a great B, which they don’t explain till after the Reception.  In the Middle there are three lighted Wax-Candles laid in a Triangle, upon which they throw Gunpowder and Rosin at the Novice’s Arrival, in order to frighten him by the Effect of those Matters.  The three Turns being made, the Recipiendary is brought into the Middle of the Writing abovementioned in three Pauses over-against the Grand-Master, who is at the upper End behind an Arm-Chair, on which is the Book of St.John’s Gospel,and asks him, Do you feel the calling? Upon his answer Yes, the Grand-Master says, Shew him the Light, he has been long enough deprived of it


The blindfold is removed and the candidate assumes the posture for obligations:  he is made to knee on his bared right knee with his left foot in the air.  He is presented with an apron and gloves.  



In that Instant they take the Cloth from before his Eyes, and all the Brothers standing in a Circle draw their Swords; they cause the Recipiendary to advance in three Pauses up to a Stool which is at the Foot of the Arm-Chair; the Brother Orator addreses him in these terms, You are going to embrace a respectable Order, which is more serious than you imagine: There is nothing in it against the Law, against Religion, against the State, against the King, nor against Manners: the venerable Grand-Master will tell you the rest.  At the same time they make him kneel on the Stool with his Right Knee, which is bare, and hold the Left Foot in the Air:   Then the Grand-Master says to him, You promise never to trace, write, or reveal the Secret of the Free-Masons or Free-Masonry, but to a Brother in the Lodge, and in the Grand-Master's presence.  Then they uncover his Breast to see if he is not a Woman, and put a Pair of Compasses on his Left Pap, which he holds himself; he puts his Right Hand on the Gospel, and pronounces his Oath in these Terms, I consent that my Tongue may be pulled out, my Heart torn to Pieces, my Body burnt, and my Ashes scatter'd, that there may be no more mention made of me amongst Mankind if, etc. after which he kisses the Book. 

 Then the Grand-Master makes him stand by him; they give him the Free-Mason's Apron, which is a white Skin, a Pair of Men's Gloves for himself, and a Pair of Women's Gloves for the Person of that Sex for whom he has the most Esteem.

Various signs and tokens are explained, including those relating to "Jachin" and "Boaz", the names of the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon: 


They also explain to him the I and the B traced on the Floor, which are the Type of the Sign by which the Brothers know one another.  The I signfies Jahkin, and the B Boiaes.  In the Signs which the Free-Masons make among one another they represent those two Words, by putting the Right Hand to the Left Side of the Chin, from whence they draw it back upon the same Line to the Right Side, then they strike the Skirt of their Coat on the Right Side and also, stretch out their Hands to each other, laying the Right and also, stretch out their Hands to each other, laying the Right Thumb upon the great Joint of his Comrade's first Finger, which is accompanied with the Word Jahkin; they strike their Breasts with the Right Hand, and take each other by the Hand again, by reciprocally touching with the Right Thumb the first and great Joint of the middle Finger, which is accompanied with the Word Boiaes


The assembled Masons welcome the new member. This is the first account that exists of the so-called Masonic Fire, a series of formal toasts using imagery based on the firing of guns:

 This Ceremony being performed and explained, the Recipiendary is called Brother; after which they sit down, and, with the Grand-Master's Leave, drink the new Brother's Health:
Every Body has his Bottle.  When they have a Mind to drink they say, Give some Powder, viz. fill the Glass.  The Grand-Master says, Lay your Hands to your Firelocks; then they drink the Brother's Health and the Glass is carried in three different Motions to the Mouth; before they set it down on the Table they lay it to their Left Pap, then to the Right, and then forwards, and in three other Pauses they lay the Glass perpendicular upon the Table, clap their Hands three times and cry three times Vivat.


  They observe to have three Wax-Candles disposed in a Triangle on the Table.  If they perceive, or suspect that some suspicious Person has introduced himself amongst them, they declare it by saying, it rains, which signifies that they must say nothing.  As some People might have discovered the Signs which denote the Terms Jahkin and  Boiaes; a Free-Mason may be known by taking him by the Hand as above-mentioned, and pronouncing I, to which the other answers A;  the first says K, the second replies H; the first ends with I, and the other with N. which makes Jakhin; it is the same in regard to Boiaes

https://books.google.co.uk/books/reader?id=e0kDAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA54

The illustrations are details from plates by Léonard Gabanon (Louis Travenol). Circa 1740 
http://www.bmlisieux.com/galeries/maconnerie/maconn01.htm



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Baudouin - Hours of the Day

Here is Baudouin's take on a standard theme - his "hours of the day" which were popularised in the late 1770s in fine copper engravings by Emmanuel-Jean-Nepomucène de Ghendt - these examples are from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown: (http://cdm16245.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/searchterm/baudouin%20heures/order/nosort)


The Met. has the original gouaches for "Morning" and "Night" (undated). They are small pictures (about 20cm x 25 cm).  In the first a gent and his young son get to view rather more sleepy woman than they bargained for:

http://metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/334782

 In the second the drift of the nocturnal action is obvious.The statue is Falconnet's L’Amour Menaçant, now in the Louvre but which once belonged to Madame de Pompadour.  It also features, equally conspiratorially, in Fragonard's The Swing.

http://metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/334976

Versions of the two companion pieces, Midday and Evening, from the Collection of the industrialist and philanthropist Maurice Fenaille, were sold by Brisonneau and Daguerre in 2006:.
http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/lots/494130