Sunday, 29 June 2014

Last portraits of Marie-Antoinette - Kucharski

Alexandre Kucharski, Marie-Antoinette, c.1792
Unfinished pastel portrait, 77cm x 60cm
Musée de l'Histoire de France, Versailles
It is to Alexander Kucharski, the second artist of Marie-Antoinette's final years, that we owe this famous and beautiful pastel portrait of the Queen, made the more poignant by its damaged and incomplete state. Intended as a gift for Madame de Tourzel, who pronounced it to be a "perfect likeness", the picture miraculously survived both the aftermath of the flight to Varennes and the Revolutionary assault of 10 August 1792; according to Olivier Blanc, Kucharski himself recouped it and sold it to Madame de Tourzel's son Charles in 1795.  The portrait is now at in the collections at Versailles. Madame de Tourzel wrote the following account on the back of the portrait:

The Queen had this portrait made for the Marquise de Tourzel, Governess of the Children of France: it was almost destroyed at the time of the journey to Varennes and was resumed in 1792.  On tenth August, it was taken from the apartment of Her Majesty and found two years later by the efforts of the marquis de Tourzel Grand prévôt de France.  A precious souvenir of the goodness of the Queen, of whom it gives a perfect likeness, though damaged by all it has suffered.  This portrait of the Queen received on 10th August two pike blows from the Revolutionaries. 

Notice for the 1792 portrait:
"Portrait en buste de la reine Marie-Antoinette" Musée de l'Histoire de France, Versailles

Photograph from the Bibl. Nat. collections
Kucharski's portrait on exhibition
at Versailles in 1927

Early career of Kucharski

Born in Warsaw in 1741, the son of a history painter and portraitist,  Alexander-Albert Kucharski had followed his father into the artistic profession and been sent to Paris to study by King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, who awarded him a pension and placed him under the profection of his correspondent Madame Geoffrin.  Kucharski won several prizes at the Académie royale de peinture and from 1762 frequented the ateliers of Vien and Van Loo. Contrary to the wishes of his patron who wished him to specialise in history painting, he became a portraitist, thereby freeing himself to remain in Paris and seek work in aristocratic circles.  He joined the household of the prince de Condé at Chantilly and in 1776 was described as painter and drawing master to Louise Adélaïde, princesse de Bourbon-Condé. He was residing by this time in the rue de Grenelle in the fashionable Faubourg Saint-Germain. Though the princesse  he would have had ample opportunity  to meet the comtesse de Boufflers, the princesse de Polignac and other members of Marie-Antoinette's immediate entourage.  He was subsequently employed the prince de Carignan and his sister, the princesse de Lamballe.  Having produced portraits of Madame Élisabeth and the comte d'Artois, in 1789 he succeeded Elisabeth Vignée Le Brun as painter to the Queen herself. According to a note on the back of a portrait Kucharski painted the Marie-Antoinette for the first time in 1780. These first works were miniatures, probably not painted from life. 

Portrait of 1788
Kucharski, Portrait of 1788.  Reproduced in Blanc
and on internet sites.

Kucharski's first major commission is believed to have been this official portrait in which Marie-Antoinette appears in a white satin gown with a high belt, a cloak with fleurs-de-lys and wearing a diadem in her hair. The picture dates from 1787 or 1788 and was intended as a pendant to a portrait of Louis XVI.  It is documented as having belonged to the de Sabran family and in the early 20th century to the comtesse de Gondrecourt.  It was later part of the Collection Alain Bancel, sold at auction (as a work by Callet) in 2003, with an estimate of only 8-10,000 euros.
According to the Le forum de Marie-Antoinette it was bought by M. René Monboisse the owner of the Château du Cambon in the Auvergne. 

Photo from Jallut, Marie-Antoinette 
et ses peintres (1955)

Various versions and copies are recorded. "Le forum de Marie Antoinette" includes a plate from Marguerite Jallut's  Marie-Antoinette et ses peintres (1955) which looks like a different version, but I wonder if it is in fact the same picture, pre-restoration?

See: "Un portrait officiel de la reine, par Kucharsky" on Le forum de Marie Antoinette [discussion from December 2013)

Catalogue entry for the auction in 2003:

A second version (left) appears on several internet sites and is reproduced in B & W in Ian Dunlop's Marie-Antoinette (1993  fig.15). Possibly it is the 19th-century copy belonging to the Princessse de Polignac mentioned in Marguerite Jallut's study of Kucharski (p.256-7)

According to Olivier Blanc, a version from the same year shows the Queen in a turban, with a rounded neckline and medallion with interlaced M and A. This painting belonged to Louis XVIII and is apparently reproduced in Castellot Marie-Antoinette (1967, p.133). See. Blanc, p.169.

Pastel portrait of 1790.

Pastel portrait, 57cm x47cm, 1790
"Private collection"
This fine portrait in black dress and pearl necklace and hair band is thought to date from 1790, at which time the royal family were already confined to the Tuileries. It was given to Madame de Tourzel and is documented as "formerly in the collection of the Princesse de Sixe de Bourbon-Parme".  It is now in a private collection (unspecified). See: Blanc p.169

Oil on canvas 
22 x 16.8 cm
Blanc mentions a second version in oils, from the collection of Hector de Béarn, great-grandson of Madame de Tourzel, who was given the work by the  Duchess of Angoulême 

This portrait is currently in the private collection of comte Jean de Béarn. Here is a catalogue entry from University of Pennsylvania image collection:

The painting recently featured prominently in a "Story of Marie Antoinette" exhibition held in Fukuoka, Japan.  (According to Google translation the owner is given in Japanese as "Jean de Bearunu Earl"!)

Portrait with black feathered turban

 Watercolour sold by Christie's in Paris on 21st November 2007.
 Signed and dated to 1790.(98mm x80mm)
Photograph (20.5 x 15.5 cm) from Bibl.nationale: Recueil. Collection de Vinck. Un siècle d'histoire de France par l'estampe, 1770-1870]
Description:  Painting by Kucharsky. Belonged in 1906 to the marquis de Lubersac, in Paris

The picture above is documented only from an early 20th-century photograph in the Bibliothèque nationale.  Marguerite Jallut suggests that it is a copy after the unfinished portrait of 1791/2 (p.260-1); it certainly features the turban adorned with black feather present in outline in the Versailles pastel. Compare also the miniature above, recently sold by Christie's, which is unusual in being dated (to 1790) 

[to be continued]


Olivier Blanc, Portraits de femmes : Artistes et modèles à l'époque de Marie-Antoinette  
(2006), p.166-8.

"KUCHARSKI, Alexandre" in Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800 [online edition. Updated 12 Feb 2014]

Marguerite Jallut, "Kucharski, dernier peintre de Marie-Antoinette", in Revue d'Histoire de la Philosophie et d'Histoire générale de la Civilisation, Lille, juillet-décembre 1939, p.251-271.

Postscript. 20/11/2016

 This picture was sold by Christie's in November 2015.   Lot 82 in the high-profile "Collection Marie-Antoinette" sale,it fetched  EUR 3,750.   It is evidently the portrait   reproduced in the Ian Dunlop biography (or a close copy)- it is painted on ivory and,  at 20.5 cms in high, is classed as a miniature.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Last portraits of Marie-Antoinette - Dumont

Versailles.  Miniature 
of Louis XVI
displayed in
the Salon of 1789
Between the years 1780 and 1792 François Dumont established his reputation as the most sought-after French miniaturist. He painted portraits of the Queen from about 1777 onwards and, after a period of study in Romein 1786,  became official Court miniaturist following  death of Ignazio Pio Vittoriano Campana.  In 1788 he was received into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture and from 1789 exhibited regularly in the Paris Salon. In 1790 the King granted him an atelier-apartment located in the Galleries of Louvre which had become vacant after the death of the engraver Charles Nicolas Cochin.  

 According to Olivier Blanc Dumont, along with Kucharski, was the artist of Marie-Antoinette's "mauvais jours".   He never hid his royalist sympathies and was imprisoned in the Abbaye prison at the end of 1793, to be  liberated only after the fall of Robespierre. He continued to occupy a place in salons of painting from 1789 to 1824 though his work was overshadowed after the Revolution by that of Isabey and Augustin.

A catalogue raisonnée of Dumont's work, compiled by Southeby's expert Bodo Hofsetter, was published in 2008; without this Dumont's miniatures of Marie-Antoinette, many of which are now in private hands, are difficult to trace.  Here are a few of the better documented examples from late in Marie-Antoinette's life.

1.  Olivier Blanc mentions two similar portraits, one "in a pink dress from 1787" and one "in a pink dress with a white fichu and black ruff from 1789", the latter "painted shortly after the death of the dauphin and sent in 1792 to the comtesse d’Esterhazy, nee d’Hallwyl".  I am not sure I can identify either of these from the internet.  The Louvre has this Marie-Antoinette in pink which, however, from the inscription on the back, dates from 1784:

Dumont, portrait of 1784.  Miniature on ivory.
 5.4cm x 4.4cm.
Musée du Louvre Inscription au dos : 
'Marie Antoinette/ d'Autriche 
Reine de/ France -1784/ par F.çois Dumont'

This portrait from the Cleveland Museum of Art, mounted on a little snuffbox, shows the black ruff which is mentioned. According to a biographical notice in the Gazette des Beaux arts for 1903, Dumont borrowed this "collerette" and also a coral necklace of Marie-Antoinette's to copy in his paintings - in the early 20th century both were still in the possession of the former owner of the Louvre miniature, Henri Gillet.

Snuffbox with miniature by Dumont, Cleveland Museum of Art

2. The catalogue of the exhibition Marie-Antoinette et son temps held in Paris in 1894 records a Dumont miniature given to Madame de Tourzel and at that time in the collection of her grandson the duc de Cars.  The queen is depicted facing and from the knees upwards. She is holding flowers which she is arranging in a vase.  This miniature is said to have been painted in 1790.  The comte de Reiset, in his edition of the journal of Marie-Antoinette's dressmaker Madame Éloffe, also mentions a portrait "from the early days of the Revolution" which was given to Madame de Tourzel (vol.II, p.287).

3. The Louvre holds a larger rectangular portrait showing the Queen with the dauphin and Madamee Royale, which is recorded as having been delivered to the Queen on 29 January 1790. This picture was probably commissioned after the event as a memory of one of the last days of freedom passed by the family in Saint-Cloud. The Queen is seated at the foot of a tree in a rural setting wearing a white silk dress with toned stripes and, on the ground to her right ,is a blue hat with red and white feathers. The blonde Madame Royal is in a blue dress and the dauphin, who clings to his mother, is dressed in a red jacket and yellow trousers. 

Dumont, Paris,
Musée du Louvre 19.5 cm x 14.3 cm


This miniature, sold by Christie's in 2001, was  dated to 1790
 on the grounds of its likeness to the family portrait.

4. Marie-Antoinette had herself painted, probably in 1791, as a vestal, standing next to an altar (identified by Olivier Blanc as a altar to amitié) and holding a vase of lilies with an image of Louis XVI.  The pose is a standard one, though it may have been chosen to echo French Revolutionary imagery;  certainly the fleurs-de-lys are an obvious royalist emblem.  It is possible too that the picture portraits the more personal theme of conjugal love elevated into passionate friendship.  Louis XVI was fond of the picture; according to Marguerite Jallut the original gouache stood on his bureau in the Tuileries, whilst a smaller copy accompanied him on the flight to Varennes.

The only version of this work now publically accessible is an engraving by Pierre-Alexandre Tardieu, begun in 1793 but only completed in 1815, having been interrupted by the Revolution. According to the Louvre database the gouache was formerly in the Collection of the duc de Mouchy and the miniature copy sold by Drouot in 1991. The books by  Marguerite Jallut and Olivier Blanc have reproductions of what are obviously the two different versions, though which is which is not entirely clear!

Olivier Blanc, p.168.  
Reproduction from Marguerite Jallut
on Le forum Marie-Antoinette

There are several miniatures clearly based on this pose, some of which date to as late as 1815..  Compare too, this portrait by Frédéric-Jean Schall, of the Queen "en vestale".

Dumont, Marie-Antoinette
Undated miniature in the Musée Jacquemart-André
5. Olivier Blanc identifies as Dumont’s last portraits two miniatures dating from the spring of 1792: "The queen, still smiling, wears a white dress, in one with a light coloured belt and in the other a dark one". The portrait below, with a light belt, is annotated as having been painted in April 1792 and sent to the duchesse de Fitz-James. (see Reiset II, p.287: "At the beginning of 1792 the Queen had a miniature painted (by Dumont) and sent to her former lady-in-waiting the ducesse de Fitz-James."  The similar portrait with a dark belt can be found at Versailles.

Signed & dated: Dumont f. avril 1792 "peint en 1792 per Dumont et 
donné en mai par la Reine á la Duchesse du FitzJames

Versailles RMN. Portrait with dark belt mounted on a snuffbox

6. Olivier Blanc also mentions a portrait sent to the comtesse d'Artois in Turin in 1792, now in the musée Lambinet, which features Marie-Antoinette with a blue belt, unpowdered chestnut hair and her elbow on a console.  He includes this illustration; the informal dress, slightly less finished quality of the work (or maybe the reproduction) give this picture a more sad pensive quality more fitted to the circumstances.

Miniature from the Musée Lambinet, dated 1792
Reproduced from Olivier Blanc, p.168

Olivier Blanc, Portraits de femmes : Artistes et modèles à l'époque de Marie-Antoinette (2006), p.166-8.

Discussion on "Le forum Marie-Antoinette".  (Includes information and reproductions from Marguerite Jallut's book Marie-Antoinette et ses peintres (1955))

Louvre: Notice of a miniature based on Dumont's portrait of Marie-Antoinette as vestal.

General biography of Dumont: 

"François Dumont, peintre miniaturiste de la reine" , Versailles forum post dated 5 Feb 2012. 
Henry de Chennevières, "François Dumont, Miniaturiste de la reine Marie-Antoinette", Gazette des Beaux-arts, 1er semestre 1903, pp.177-192.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A waistcoat belonging to Robespierre

This picture comes from 9 et 10 Thermidor, the splendid illustrated book of 1908 mentioned in my earlier post as being available in the Picpus Digital Archives.  It is a part of a waistcoat which belonged to Robespierre! The mottoes read "Vivre libre ou mourir" ("Liberty or death") and "La Nation, la Loi, le Roi" ("Nation, Law, King").  The waistcoat was apparently sent by Robespierre to a certain M. Bérteché, an admirer in Arras in 1793 (when loyalty to the King was presumably no longer good garment graphics).  
The only evidence for Robespierre actually wearing such an item is Hector Fleischmann's statement that Vivant Denon once met him in the gardens of the Tuileries dressed in an embroidered satin waistcoat of rose silk - which may or may not have been this particular one.  However, the style and colour are consistent with Robespierre's reputation for dandyism.  The waistcoat is confirmation too, should any be needed, of just how seriously French Revolutionaries took uniforms, costumes and symbolic accoutrements of all sorts.

Print in the New York Public Library
The fragment is documented as part of a collection belonging to the Academician, dramatist and associate of Lenotre, Henri Lavedan. It was reproduced by Hector Fleischmann in his Robespierre et les femmes in 1909 and the New York Public Library has a print that looks roughly the same date.  In April 1933 it was bought by the actor Sacha Guitry, who also apparently possessed Robespierre's lace jabot.  I can't find any evidence of where it is now, if it still exists; certainly not in any of the big French public collections.

Buffenoir in his Portraits de Robespierre wrote that he had seen the waistcoat, but was sceptical;  he considered it to be much too big and too long for "la taille petite et mince du chef de la Montagne" (Annales révolutionnaires 1909, 2(3): p.379)

[INDEX 13] Fragment of a waistcoat with stripes of silk and velvet which belonged to Robespierre and was sent by him in 1793 to M Bertéché, in Arras.
One of the stripes of the design has the device: VIVRE LIBRE OU MOURIR, alternating with another: LA NATION, LA LOI, LE ROI.
Collection de M. Henri Lavedan

Hector Fleischmann, Robespierre et les femmes (1909) (Plate, opp. p.64)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Building the King's highways - the corvée

From Lannion, Côtes-d'Armor, in the north of Brittany

These boundary markers, still fairly plentiful along the roads of France, represent the last tangible reminders of the corvée, the system of forced labour on the roads which was to become the very symbol of ancien régime archaism and inequities. 

Each one typically bears the name of a parish and the length of the section of road for which it was  responsible (in toises, one toise being just short of two metres)

At Mayenne.  The Royal highway from Paris 
to Brittany ran via Mayenne and Laval

Route de Bourbon-Archambault, 
St Menoux in the Auvergne

It comes as a surprise to learn that the imposition of compulsory labour on the roads was not in fact some hangover from the feudal past, but an central government initiative laid out in legislation for the first time in only in 1738. In contrast to England, where roads were paid for by tolls and turnpikes, French administrators sought to finance road construction and maintenance through taxation. To Controller General Orry, the corvée mobilised those subject to the taille for construction projects of benefit to the local population, whilst avoiding increases in the tax burden.  (According to Necker, the  corvée of 1789 yielded the equivalent in labour of 20 million livres in cash).   The administrative machine in the form of royal engineers and inspectors already reached far into the provinces and the mechanism for the mobilisation of peasant labour was now put into place (though responsibility for roads was uneasily maintained by the provincial Estates in Burgundy, Languedoc, Britanny and Provence).

Typically the engineer responsible for a given task would first draw up a detailed estimate of the length, width and gradient of the road to be built or repaired, the nature and the quantity of work to be done (excavation, embanking, paving etc.),  and the number of parishes along the roads which would be involved;  as well as labour, the parishes were obliged to provide carts, horses and tools. An edict was then published which announced the date on which work would commence and the  engineer, with his subdélégué, would assign tasks to the assembled labourers - to fill ruts, to excavate, to quarry stone or gravel, or to transport material to the site. For safety's sake, stakes were normally placed around the stretch of road concerned. Workers were usually organised into teams of eight or ten with foremen known as picqueurs and were forbidden to leave until the deadline for the completion. If sufficient labourers failed to appear, the work could be given to a building contractor at the parish's expense.

A rare illustration of roadworkers:
Jean-François Demay, La route de Picardie,1832
Coll. Musée de la Voiture et du Tourisme-Compiègne

Unsurprisingly the corvée was profoundly unpopular: though in theory only a few days work, the burden fell unevenly and could cause serious hardship by diverting effort from the fields. In the great road building initiative under Trudaine in the late 1740s, the marquis d'Argenson  characterised this use of  "forced and unpaid labour" along the major highways as "the most horrible tax ever yet endured". Fine roads and highways were all very well but in his native Touraine haste to complete the work was crushing the population within a circuit of a dozen miles. The demand for labour and subsistence were simply beyond the capacity of parishes to meet. Peasants were kept from their harvests, paid a pittance for their carts, and villages became depopulated as men we driven to take refuge in the towns. On the other side, administrators found the corvéables unwilling and unskilled and the short-term nature of their commitment inconvenient.  As a consequence the practice of commuting the corvée  and employing professional contractors gradually gained ground and was favoured by reforming intendants such as Orceau de Fontette in Normandy (1758) and Turgot in Limousin( 1762) who agreed a lump sum with parishes in place of statute work.

By  the 1760s, as noisy clashes grew between peasants and engineers, rural communities and royal authorities, commentators increasingly took sides on the merits of the corvée  Opponents such as  parlementaires of Normandy, Toulouse and Bordeaux, the Physiocrats, and the marquis de Mirabeau, all attacked the hidden taxation of the penalty imposed on production. Publications such as  Guillaume Grivel article "Corvée" in the Encyclopédie méthodique of 1784 made much of the analogy with archaic medieval practice and the corvée came increasingly to represent the oppression of arbitrary rule.  Nonetheless Turgot's attempts to replace it with a new tax in 1773 caused a furore of protest from defenders of fiscal privilege and it was not until 1787, on the eve of the Revolution, that the practice was formally abolished.


Examples of "bornes de corvée":

"Bornes diverse" on the CFPPHR website.

Topic Topos: Patrimoine des communes de France.


Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment, Harvard University Press (1998) p.49-50.

Anne Conchon:  Road building in 18th century France

______,  "Le travail entre labeur et valeur: la corvée royale au XVIIIe siècle", Cahiers d'histoire. Revue d'histoire critique No.110 (2009)

Le Corvée en Bretagne (website)

Father Berruyer's Biblical novel (cont.)

Illustration from:

Here are a few passages from Father Berruyer's rendition of Genesis. As his critics pointed out, the Patriarchs seem more like 18th-century Frenchmen than Ancient Hebrews. The effect is amplified by Berruyer's typically Jesuit insistence on Divine Mercy and human free will, a theological outlook which doesn't sit happily with the vengeful God of the Old Testament. In Berruyer's version God gives men plenty of time to mend their ways  - if only they would stop and think though their actions more carefully!

Trouble in Paradise

Eve gives the fruit of the Tree of
Knowledge of which she
had eat to her Husband
Genesis 3:6

[God forbids Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge] For Adam, who felt himself to be full of courage, the law of abstinence from a single fruit, seemed a slight test of his virtue...But Adam was still alone, and he did not know what it costs a fond man to ignore the pleas, or to guard against the seductive powers, of a woman...

[God creates Eve] The two rational creatures to whom He had given command of the created world, occupied themselves agreeably with admiring its marvels and giving thanks to its author.  Adam profited from these happy moments to teach his new wife the precepts he had received from God....Adam fulfilled the duties of a good husband, instructing his wife with much care; and the wife for her part was so attentive that she remembered his instruction world for word and repeated them on many occasions.  

[Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat from the forbidden tree - she finds the fruit "as delicious in taste as it was agreeable to the eye" and prevails upon Adam to follow her lead]   ...the caresses, the solicitations, the importuning of a beloved wife, who was afflicted, who gave herself over to despair, who reproached him with indifference towards her, make powerful impressions on the heart of a man.  Adam allowed himself to be conquered and finally bit the fatal morsel" (vol.1, book1,  p.22-29)

Cain has a fit of jealousy

Cain rises up against his brother
 Abel & kills him. Genesis 4:8
We only know of the youth of these two brothers their common education and their difference of profession.  But it is scarcely likely that they had lived so long without giving proofs of the diversity of their characters, and without letting Adam see what he should fear or hope.  Whatever the case, an unhappy occasion made it known and decided their fate.

[God prefers the sacrifice of Abel] Jealousy does not make for justice.  Cain ought to have recognised the cause of his disgrace and remedied it.  He preferred to avenge himself on a fortunate man, however undeserving of punishment, and at the mere sight of the happiness of Abel, he forgot that he was his brother and regarded him only as his enemy......

[Cain murders his brother] God did not deign to communicate with Cain after such a terrible action.  To start with he only said to him two words, with a gentleness that the fratricide did not merit: Cain, where is Abel your brother?  I know nothing replied the rogue.  Am I my brother's keeper?...A response so insolent merited a thunder bold.  But God, who had tried in vain to stop the crime, wanted still to lead Cain to repentance........
(vol.1, book 1, p.38-41)

God sends a Flood

And it rained upon the Earth
forty days & forty nights.

Genesis 7:12
[God finally has enough of men's bad behaviour] 
My patience is at an end said God to Noah.  All the earth is teeming with abominations and my sight is filled with crimes.  My religion is extinguished, my cult abolished.  The time of my vengeance approaches and my decrees  are henceforth irrevocable.....

[Noah is instructed by God to construct the Ark]
Noah made incredible efforts to touch the heart of God, calling for penitence from men.  He obeyed however and for twenty years he had the happiness of building the instrument of his salvation under the eyes of the bold....At the sight of this astonishing edifice and of a conduct that appeared so bizarre in a man with a great reputation for sagacity and virtue, a few couldn't prevent themselves from fearing the future.  But half unbelieving they flattered themselves too much to anticipate it properly.  This reasoning, presumptuous though it was, was that of the most wise and least opinionated.  The Ark was for a longtime the object of of insults.....

The flood was so great, the waters increased all the time, without a moment of interruption either of the flow of underground waters nor the fall of those which fell from the sky in torrents, that the highest mountains of of all the countries of the world were covered and even buried by the waters.  Reptiles, birds, beasts of the countryside, domestic animal, all that breathed on the earth and in the air, perished without exception, and with them all men, without a single one outside the arch being able to find a means of escaping the shipwreck....The Holy patriarch, with his family, struck by the severity of the vengeance of God, and touched by his great mercies, prayed with ardor for the salvation of those who had perished...(vol.1 book 1, p.56-60)

Abraham and Isaac

[God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac]
Abraham, lay not thine hand on the Child.
Genesis 22:11,12
Everything contributed, it would seem, to justify the resistant of Abraham in such circumstances. The sacrifice of human blood ordered by a God who was always offended by such barbarities; the murder of a son at the hands of his father, and commanded by a master who declares himself the father of all men, the death of this child without posterity who was destined to be the leader and father of a great People.  It was necessary only to contrast God with Himself, his inclinations with his orders, his former oracles with his new commandments, to make a merit of disobeying him or in conscience to treat as an illusion these contradictory orders.
[Abraham, however, is accustomed to obedience and  determines to carry out what is demanded of him.  An Angel appears to rescue Isaac in the nick of time.](vol.1, book 2. p.162-4)Don't go any further continued the Angel; let fall the sword which you are aremed with; spare a victime that is dear to you and whom God takes care of.  The Lord knows now that you fear him, and a father who will have his son sacrificed is a servant worthy of him.  Abrhanam obeyed with gratitude this sweek comandment because he had sumbitted without feableness to the harsh on.....

Joseph and his brothers

[The patriarch Jacob was disappointed in the conduct of his sons, except for one who was his favourite]

This son, so dear, and so worthy of being so, was Joseph, born in Mesopotamia in Syria of Jacob and Rachel, six year before the Patriarch left to enter into the land of Canaan.  As soon as the Lord had given them this blessed child, he became the darling of his father and mother, because he was the unhoped for fruit of the old age of the one and the late fertitity of the other. 

Joseph is sold into slavery by his brethren
Genesis 37:38

As soon as he was of the age to show by his conduct and by his habits, something more than a natural tenderness, he was seen to merit not only the affection of Rachel, but also the esteem and confidence of Jacob. He was handsome, but modest; his candor, openness, innocence, seemed to be born with the child and to grow with him.  His obedience was always without reserve and his gratitude without bounds.  It was impossible for Jacob not to give preference in his heart to this amiable child.  But whatever care the father took to hide his predilection, the keen eyes of the brothers  soon uncovered whom his heart preferred ....  Each of the caresses of the father, became a crime of the son's , and a reason for hatred to his brothers.  This even extended to the distinction made in dress for little Joseph by offended them. A long coat of many colours that was made for him put them immediately into a bad temper

[Joseph recounts his dreams in which his family seems to bow down to him] The brothers of Joseph, outraged by the ambitious claims of a child who, though only sixteen, seemed to wish to dominate them all, resolved to be rid of him....It was strange that among so many sons of a saint this criminal project was accepted without contention and no-one though of softening the violence of it....[They are persuaded by Ruben at least "not to soil their hands with the blood of their brother" and Joseph is sold into slavery.(vol.1,book 4, p.328-32)

Potiphar's wife

[Having become superintendent of Potiphar's house, Joseph is the object of his wife's attentions]

Joseph enjoyed good fortune as the superintendent of Potiphar.  His God never allowed him to lack opportunity to show merit and, before making the final step to the pinnacle of honour, he was buried seemingly forever in an abyss of confusion.  One would naturally  fear for him only the jealousy of the Egyptians against the favoring of a Stranger, but he used his credit to make so many happy, that he did not make any enemies.  He would have been secure if he did not have to guard against the furors of hate.  A woman conceived a love for him and he found that he could only guard his innocence at the expense of his reputation, the loss of his liberty and the risk of his life.

The handsome face of the Foreigner was all the more remarkable  in that the natives of the country were nearly all poorly endowed of a face and figure.  The young man did not make much of the gifts of nature -  perhaps he did not know to what point he was favored.  But the wife of his master was struck and, having the occasion to see him every day, conceived a violent passion for him, which she resolved to satisfy.  She declared her sentiments to him and pressed him to respond. She did so so often and in such an immoderate way, that he believed finally that he must confront her her and take from her all hope that he would consent to such a crime.

Think carefully, he said to her,  about the words you have spoken; have you not noticed the horror they inspire in me? You can see that your husband has given me his trust, made me master of all he possesses.  I know better than he does what goes on in his house and he so relies on my loyalty that he never calls me to account. I have at my disposal his house and his goods, which he leaves to my stewardship.  And yet you believe me to be capable of the most monstrous ingratitude towards a master who showers me with benefits, that in thanks I would snatch away his honour?  No I will never consent.  Even if I was ungrateful enough to betray the best master that I could have on earth, I have another master in Heaven, whose sight and vengeance I cannot avoid. Do not hope to win me over.  Blush at your unworthy entreaties and cease to entice me to a crime for which I would be punished if I dared to commit it.

This wise reply did not move this love-crazed woman.  One day when Joseph retired to his apartment to work alone and at ease, she followed him, insisted again and seized his coat to detain him.  Such an occasion required no less than a Joseph, that is to say a wise God-fearing man, chastened by religion.  Joseph did not delay in fleeing from danger and abandoned his cloak in the hands of the temptress.  He saw very well that he was furnishing an outraged woman with arms against him which she would not hesitate to use and that to save his virtue was to leave himself without hope.  He saw the consequences, and he counted them as nothing in comparison with his innocence.

Potiphar's wife profited from her advantage; and not being able to make herself loved nor obeyed, she gave her self the cruel pleasure of vengeance....(vol.1,book 4, p.341-3)


Berruyer Histoire du peuple de Dieu 
Histoire du peuple de Dieu, depuis son origine jusqu'à la naissance du Messie. Nouv.ed. Paris : Bordelet : Gissey, 1742 (10 vols.)

Histoire du peuple de Dieu, depuis la naissance du Messie, jusqu'à la fin de la synagogue Anvers : libraires associés, 1754 (8 vols)

There are no plates in the various editions of  Berruyer's work. The pictures above are from a roughly contemporary set of Biblical illustrations:
From Figures de la Bible. Illustrated by Gerard Hoet, and others.Published by P. de Hondt in The Hague (La Haye). 1728.
Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries
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