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.  

Monday 27 April 2015

The Temple - en 3D

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

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.

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.

Monday 13 April 2015

A Masonic temple (Château de Mongenan)

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. 


Château de Mongenan website http://www.chateaudemonge
Some set of photographs: 


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

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 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 harassment; 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.


"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)

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

The 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


The illustrations are details from plates by Léonard Gabanon (Louis Travenol). Circa 1740 

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:


 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.


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:.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Pierre-Antoine Baudouin

Greuze has made himself a painter-preacher of good morals, Baudouin, a painter-preacher of bad; Greuze, a painter of the family and of respectable people Baudouin, a painter of rakes and houses of ill repute
 (Diderot Salon of 1765)

Pierre-Antoine Baudouin (1723-69) was an artist for the mid-century world of irresponsible pleasures and frivolous societies....  A pupil of Boucher, he took  his master's work to one logical conclusion with a prolific oeuvre of mildly erotic and highly popular miniature boudoir scenes in gouache. In 1758 he had married Boucher's beautiful younger daughter and model Marie-Elisabeth and in August 1763 he gained respectability through his election to the Académie royale. He exhibited in the Salons throughout the 1760s. His reception piece was a historical subject  (Hyperides pleading the cause of Phryne before the Areopagus, now in the Louvre) and he apparently received some minor royal commissions -a Life of the Virgin and a frontispiece for the Gospels intended for the Chapelle royale.  But these serious subjects were an exception..  Diderot described him as: "A nice young man, attractive, kind, witty, a bit of a libertine..." (Bon garçon, qui a de la figure, de la douceur, de l'esprit, un peu libertin)" - and, comparing him adversely with Greuze, roundly condemned his art as immoral.  It was even rumoured, perhaps maliciously, that Baudouin's early death was the result of "libertinage".

One of the best source of information Baudouin is the database of the Utpictura18 project, an interdiciplinary study by the Centre interdisciplinaire d'étude des littératures d'Aix-Marseille (CIELAM).  This brings together images and contemporary commentaries on paintings, particularly, for Baudouin, the Salons of Diderot.  Here are a few of the more interesting pictures: 

Salon of 1765

Diderot  noted the appeal of Baudouin's depictions of  illicit sex and sexuality; he complained that all the young girls (and quite a few old men) manoeuvred themselves into a position  where they could eye distractedly Baudouin's paintings, particularly  The Peasant Girl Quarreling with Her Mother and The Cherry Picker.

The Peasant Girl Quarrelling with Her Mother (La Fille querellée par sa mère)

"The Peasant Girl Quarreling with Her Mother is the best of Baudouin's small pictures; it's better drawn than the others and rather agreeably coloured, though still a bit drab"  A second painted, which suggests an earlier episode in the story, appeared in the Salon for 1767.
See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=A4601

The empty quiver (Le carquois épuisé)


Described by Diderot under the title "Hope unfulfilled", this picture was named The Empty Quiver in the etching by Nicolas Delaunay. The setting, says Diderot, is a boudoir "appointed for pleasure"; the young man stretched out nonchalantly on the chaise longue is reluctant to make further effort: like the the elaborately depicted statue of Cupid, he has shot his last bolt. The "fille" standing beside him, applying rouge, gives him an irritated look, as if to say "What, is that all you know how to do?"  Elsewhere Diderot conceded that technically "the weariness of the man on the sofa of the prostitute freshening her rouge is not bad."  He likened Baudouin to the castrated Abelard:  his work lacked the masculine rectitude of great art.
See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=A6495
See also: Melissa Lee Hyde, Making up the rococo:  François Boucher and his critics (2006) p.70-72 [extract on Google Books].

The Confessional

Two young gentlemen disrupt a fashionable crowd at the confessional - the Archbishop of Paris had the work withdrawn from the Salon as impious, though as Grimm pointed out, he seemed happy enough to leave Baudouin's other, morally reprehensible pictures, in place  In 1763 an earlier religious scene, of a priest hearing catechism, had similarly been removed.

Le Confessionnal.  Engraving of 1777 by Pierre-Etienne Moitte
See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=B0554

Salon of 1767

 The marriage bed (Le Coucher de la mariée)

 Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (no.28441)

This piece was a study for a work executed by Baudouin on the occasion of the marriage of the marquis de Marigny,  brother of Madame de Pompadour. A half naked bride is forced into bed by her women, aided and abetted by her young husband. Diderot, sensing Baudouin's real objective was to titillate, slated this picture, though his own alternative scene, the modest and trembling young bride parting from her parents, seems just as sexually charged. Diderot concluded that no respectable French girl would act up in front of the servants; the picture more closely resembled a courtesan and her customer.  The bride was quite well-drawn but her husband, in his dressing gown, resembled an "empty sack".  Diderot conceded that the servant turning back the bedcovers was "rather well conceived."

See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=A6369

Le fruit de l’amour secret  (The fruit of secret love)

Engraving of 1777 by François Voyez,  British Museum (detail)

In a comfortable interior a woman sitting in an armchair in front of a canopy bed, holds out her hand to her lover.  On the left, a midwife hands over her illegitimate new-born to an unknown man.  Versions of this picture exist in various prints.

Diderot imagined a similar but pathos-filled scene in which a poor newly-delivered mother was obliged to abandon her child through necessity.  Badouin's picture did not fare well against this model; his new mother was clearly a courtesan or a strayed aristocrat rather than a woman of the people. "Composition stiff, devoid of truth, execution weak", noted Diderot, though he admitted  that the figures were well-proportioned and nicely arranged.

See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=A4604

Salon of 1769

The honest model (Le Modèle honnête)

Washington, National Gallery of Art

The theme of this gouache, a poor girl driven to abandon modesty and pose nude for an artist, is made clear by the original title in Latin on the picture frame: Quid non cogit Egestas? ("What does not Poverty compel one to do?")  Diderot had previously suggested the theme to Greuze and did not appreciate Baudouin's rendition; according to him,  the older woman, was not a solicitous mother but "a vile creature who does some villainous business".  Fragonard, who copied Rubens with Baudouin in the Galérie du Luxembourg in 1767, essayed a similar scene;  his work is generally considered more successful, though still morally ambivalent, with its strong sense of collusion between the protagonists.

See: http://utpictura18.univ-montp3.fr/GenerateurNotice.php?numnotice=A0546&derniere

See also  [Extracts on Google Books]: 

"Baudouin, The Honest Model 1769" in  Colin B. Bailey et al.,  The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard;  masterpieces of French genre painting.  (2003) p.240-1

Pierre Rosenberg, Fragonard  Metropolitan Museum of Art (1988) p.316-7.



"Baudouin" in Utpictura18 - Base de donnés iconographiques
(Projet Utpictura18: CIELAM, le Centre interdisciplinaire d'étude des littératures d'Aix-Marseille)

List of texts from Diderot's Salons: 

English translations of the Salons :  John Goodman:  Diderot on Art.  Vol.1 (Salon of 1765); Vol.2 (Salon of 1767)

Sunday 5 April 2015

More erotica - the Code for Cythera

The Code for Cythera, published in 1746, is another offering from Jean-Baptiste Moët, this time outlining a Utopian scheme for the regulation of prostitution in Paris. It was later often bound together with the much more famous Pornographe of Restif de la Bretonne and perhaps provided inspiration for it.  Nothing is known of the circumstances of its appearance.  Moët solemnly tells us that well-regulated prostitution is preferable to individual debauch, but he is not really contemplating serious reform -  the Code is announced in a lit de justice by Cupid!  Moët certainly had a fertile erotic imagination and an eye for detail. [I particularly liked the instruction that the girls should be careful not to over-excite old codgers; but why are they not allowed bed-warmers???]

The following is a English summary, once more lifted from the redoutable Nina Epton:

[Jean-Baptiste Moët] wrote a Code for Cythera inspired, at least so he alleged, by Plautus.  The antiquity of this source did not make it any more respectable.  The establishment he had in mind was to have room for twelve hundred life members, called "Courtesan Girls" or "Love Favourites" who would be divided between four houses situated in different parts of the capital.  The girls would be exempted from taxes.

Admission would be open to girls over fifteen years of age who presented themselves with a certificate signed by two matrons to the effect that they were no longer in possession of their virginity.  A fund of 6,000 livres would be raised (the author does not specify how or by whom) for the building of these four establishments.  their purpose would be revealed by a sign placed over the front door, representing a blindfolded god of love.

Cythera, the legendary island of pleasure - plate from “Jean Hervez” [aka Raoul Vèze],
 Les sociétés d'amour au xviiie siècle (1906).
Each courtesan would be made to pay a sum of £500 upon her admission, and be required to show a certificate from the establishment's registered surgeon and general visitor to the effect that her health was unimpaired.  After six years' service, the Favourites would be allowed to retire to the Filles Pénitentes convent or to the Madelonnettes, or to live on their own if they so desired.  As soon as they reached the age of forty years and one day, when "reason and temperance should have replaced the ardours of youth and the appetite for pleasure", the Favourites would retire as mentioned above, with a pension.  Any children born to the Favourites would be placed in a Foundling Hospital to be brought up and educated with the greatest care.

The inmates of the four establishments would be divided into three categories of a hundred Favourites each: "Young Favourites" (under twenty); "Joyous Cortesans" (between twenty and thirty years old) and "Mature Women".

Reality: Étienne Jeaurat, La Conduite des filles de joie à la Salpêtrière, Musée Carnavalet, 1755
There would be nominated upon a hereditary basis one hundred and twenty duennas known as "Controlling Sisters" and two hundred and twenty "Mother Directresses".  Ex-procuresses who had never appeared before a court of justice were eligible for these posts.

"The Controlling Sisters will receive every client who presents himself at the gates and asks for an amorous rendezvous with one of the inmates.  The Sisters will inspect them and refuse entry to clients who are not in good health.  Clients suffering from  ill-health will be made to pay a fine of £10.   The funds raised from these fines will be used for house repairs.

"The Mother Directresses will teach the Favourites the gestures, postures, pleasantries, stimulating exercises etc., destined to increase the delights of the senses.  In the intervals between their work, the Favourites will be permitted to read, but care will be taken to avoid books capable of stimulating the already over-active desires of those who read them for this would be tantamount to pouring oil on the fire.
"The Favourites will wear a distinctive uniform, also a pink taffeta bonnet embroidered with a bow and arrow and two numbers indicating their category and rank.  The use of rouge is forbidden to the Young Favourites but the other categories will be allowed to apply it in moderation.

"The Favourites of the two senior categories will rub their faces every evening with a pommade of snails and cucumber to make their complexions soft and fresh.  The use of paint is forbidden.

"It is expressly forbidden to use bed-warmers in the winter.  Our Courtesans and Favourites must never undress themselves completely even in the midst of debauche.  From the age of fifteen to thirty they will wear boned corsets.

"Our Courtesans must be gentle and affable with old gentlemen.  Rigorous methods would only frighten them - perhaps even kill them.  We therefore allow our Favourites to assist all gentlemen over the age of sixty so long as these forms of assistance are neither too fatiguing nor two humiliating.

"The Young Favourites will be allowed to see three gentlemen per day, but they may not keep them in their room for more than three hours at a time; the Joyous Courtesans may keep them for two hours only, whereas Mature Women may see four men a day but only for one hour at a time.

"On the days of lunar influence, our ladies will be replaced by aspirants.  During these days of rest the Favourites may walk in the public gardens or go to the theatre provided they are not accompanied by one of their colleagues.  They must not allow themselves to be accosted in the street.

"If the Favourites commit a grave fault, they will be sent to the Hospital of the Faubourg Saint-Martin.  Each establishment will be provided with a pharmacy and an apothecary and there will be a medical visit twice a week.  An armed company of twenty archers under a commandant will be responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the vicinity of our various establishments."

The Code ends with a carefully calculated estimate of expenses and receipts which prove that the author - a Monsieur Moët - had a good business sense.


Nina Epton, Love and the French (World Publishing,1959) p.260-2.

For anyone with the stamina, the original is available on Google Books: 
Jean-Baptiste Moët, Code de Cythère, ou Lit de justice d'amour (1746)

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