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79 posts categorized "France"

27 March 2017

Hommage to the French Resistance: two recently donated books

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Dr Catherine Delano-Smith, former reader in historical geography at the University of Nottingham, and now Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London, donated two books to the British Library in spring 2015 relating to the French Resistance and its fighters in the Second World War.

The books originally came from the library of AndrĂ© Canivez (1909-1981), professor of philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. AndrĂ© Canivez was related to Dr Delano-Smith by marriage, as her mother’s sister was his second wife, Mouza Raskolnikov. Her first husband was Fedor Raskolnikov (1892-1939), a Bolshevik and eminent Russian politician who went into exile to France in 1938 and died the following year in unclear circumstances. Mouza had spent the rest of the Second World War hiding in the Massif Central at Treignac. She married Canivez at the end of the hostilities and moved to Strasbourg with him. André Canivez had been a prisoner of war and taken to a camp when France capitulated; he survived his POW camp experiences but was left in very poor health.

Dr Delano-Smith and her mother visited the couple and, after her mother’s death in 1978, Catherine returned to Strasbourg regularly to visit Mouza, who was by then suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. After Mouza’s death, Catherine inherited part of AndrĂ© Canivez’s library and decided to donate the above books. She supplemented them with a photograph of an unnamed French Resistance fighter (without a blindfold) taken just before his execution. She feels that this picture was of significant importance to AndrĂ© Canivez as it used to hang in his study. This picture has always been a mystery and despite extensive research it has never been possible to identify the man.

French Resistance Temoins half-title
Half-title page of  Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger ([s.l.], 1946)  RF.2015.b.32

The first donation, entitled Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger, is an account of conditions in the concentration camps in Germany and Poland, and also of life in the French Resistance. It is a touching tribute to all those who died in horrific circumstances. The book is enriched with many photographs, none too horrific to look at but sufficient to bring home the terrible conditions these men and women endured. As well as many anonymous pictures there are also tributes to specific Resistance fighters who fought for their country. In addition to the current edition, 500 copies were printed for the families of the deceased. The A4 size photograph has been inserted in the British Library copy at the request of Dr Delano-Smith.

French Resistance Temoins women
Portraits of women from the Resistance who died in the RavensbrĂŒck concentration camp, from Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger

The second donation, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945) is a fictionalised account by Dr Denis Cordonnier, who was detained in the prison of Loos in northern France for a year and released before the end of the war. Whilst in prison he had promised his fellow Resistance prisoners that if he was released he would write a novel testifying to their sufferings but also celebrating the bravery and patriotism of these men who had been ready to give their lives for their country. Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) is the fruit of this promise. Names were changed, but events and characters closely reflected reality. The story is narrated by a Dr Duval who through his practitioner’s experience, his commitment to the Resistance, and his shrewd analysis of the human mind, is the perfect person to depict the effect of incarceration on the prisoners at Loos. Without lapsing into pathos, it is a very sensitive and realistic account.

 French Resistance geoles allemandes1   French Resistance geoles allemandes (Canivez)
Cover and title-page (inscribed to André Canivez), from, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945)

These two donations were very timely, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and are a valuable addition to the British Library’s French literature of the war. These two volumes are not only a poignant testimony to the horrors of the Second World War, but also a celebration of the Maquisards and a reminder of how much France owes to the French Resistance.

Annick Mann, Quality Assurance, Content and Metadata Processing

06 March 2017

French entertainment in the Evanion collection: from Robert-Houdin to La Foire du TrĂŽne

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The current British Library exhibition ‘Victorian Entertainement: There Will Be Fun’  starts with a poster advertising the day performances and ‘SoirĂ©es Fantastiques’ of French magician Robert-Houdin, ‘The Father of Modern Magic’. After the Revolution of February 1848, which deposed the French King Louis Philippe, Robert-Houdin went to London where he performed at the St James’s Theatre in the summer of 1848.

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       Poster for Robert Houdin, ‘SoirĂ©es Fantastiques’, St. James's Theatre, Piccadilly. 1848 (Evanion 528)

The third part of the show involved a Levitation Illusion, called ‘Escamotage de Robert-Houding Fils, Suspension Etherenne’, which is illustrated at the bottom of the poster. The trick is still used nowadays by street performers throughout the world. In this performance, starring his own son, Robert-Houdin associated the trick with the use of ether, claiming that he had discovered a new marvellous property of the substance: its inhalation would make the boy’s body as light as a balloon, allowing him to float in the air with only a stick as a support.

Robert-Houdin was an inspiration for Evanion, the London conjuror and ventriloquist who started performing in 1849 and whose collection of ephemera related to Victorian entertainment, magic and performance is currently on display in the exhibition.

Among the French items in the collection  several posters advertise performances held at the Foire du TrĂŽne in Paris in the 1880s. They show the diversity of the attractions held at this fair, dating back to the Middle Ages, which still takes place every year around Easter. The fair used to be held by the Abbey of Saint-Antoine and was called ‘Foire au Pain d’Epice’ because of the gingerbread made by the monks for the occasion.

The Fair owes its name to its location, a square in the East of Paris which used to be called ‘Place du TrĂŽne’ after the throne erected there as part of the celebrations for the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660 (depicted in L’entrĂ©e triomphante de leurs majestez ... dans la ville de Paris... (Paris, 1660) British Library 37/604.i.22.). During the French Revolution, it became the square of the Toppled Throne, ‘Place du TrĂŽne renversé’, where a guillotine was set up, and it was later renamed Place de la Nation.

2foire pain epice jal ill  1893
“Le lundi de PĂąques Ă  la foire aux Pains d’Epices”, Le Journal IllustrĂ©, 16 April 1893 (BibliothĂšque nationale de France)

In an engraving printed in Le Journal Illustré of 16 April 1893, crowds of adults and children wander through the fair and its tents; open air activities include, from left to right, the selling and throwing of confetti, snack selling, giant effigies, musicians, a game of balls, an air balloons themed Ferris wheel, and the Hammer game.

3trone 1881b

Examples of Foire du TrĂŽne attractions featuring in the posters collected by Evanion include races accompanied by military bands and riding lessons for the general public at the Hippodrome (1881, Evanion 593, pictured above).

4trone 1881a

Poster for Rothomago.  Foire du TrĂŽne, 1881. Evanion 1257

It also included performances of Rothomago, a fairy spectacle in 3 acts and 16 tableaux (including the Enchanted Twig, the House of the Devil, the Speaking Talisman, and the Genius of the World, finishing with an Apotheosis illuminated with electric light ‘even during daytime’), with painted backgrounds, cardboard sets and exotic costumes. The exuberance of this dramatic love comedy exudes from the illustration at the centre of the poster, peopled with characters of different dress and status, from the majestic fairy standing at the top of a jungle temple, to the lovers at the centre of the scene.

5foire 1881

Poster for the wax museum, “Grand musĂ©e français de sujets en cire”, Champ de Foire, Paris, 1881. Evanion 594

The ‘Champ de Foire’ was a space for the display of curious, instructive, entertaining or terrifying exhibits, like the Great French Museum of Wax Characters, focused on contemporary military and religious figures. It included life-size effigies of the sovereigns of Europe, and the tribal chiefs of Zululand, with an action scene showing the recent dramatic death, in 1879, of the young prince Napoleon (son of the emperor Napoleon III), who had joined the British troops in the Anglo-Zulu War. The show also displayed models of the most famous contemporary criminals. The author presents himself in the tract as an accredited and serious ‘artist’, who uses historical accessories (costumes and arms are ‘300 to 400 years old’) and distances himself from fairground entertainers and charlatans: his ‘gallerie’ is not designed to entertain the idle, as one needs to be ‘vraiment intelligent’ to appreciate its riches, though three ‘explicateurs’ will guide visitors.

6trone 1887
Poster for the glass-weaver, “La fileuse de verre”, Foire du Trîne, Paris, 1887. Evanion 1271

The fair featured the Glass Weaver, a ‘famous artist’ who would make her ‘chefs-d’oeuvre’ in front of the public, producing a variety of objects such as carafes, test tubes, crystal flowers, and wonderfully long threads of glass (1887). The illustration shows how craft making becomes a performance: rays of light emanate from her head and she works at a table, behind a glass screen, surrounded by clouds of smoke and flanked by two monumental lions.

The Foire du Trîne hosted a variety of shows and performances, from the technologically sophisticated, like cinematographic projections, which started in the 1890s, exalting the wonders of modern science, to the more modest, like the Living statues act, with street artists dressed and made up to impress the crowds (see the backstage preparation of ‘Golden men’ in 1893).

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La baraque de la Goulue, Ă  la Foire du TrĂŽne; reproduced in Lautrec par Lautrec., ed. Philippe Huisman and M. G. Dortu (Paris, 1964). L.R.409.p.5.

The fair held many stands and entertainments tents. In 1895, Toulouse-Lautrec painted two panels for the oriental booth of La Goulue (‘the Glutton’), Louise Weber, a cancan dancer who had gained fame and wealth by performing at the new Moulin Rouge cabaret which opened in Montmartre in 1889. In the left panel La Goulue, dances at the Moulin Rouge with her partner, the tall and gaunt Valentin the DĂ©sossĂ© (‘the Boneless’); in the right panel she performs a ‘danse mauresque’, belly-dancing accompanied on the piano, next to two characters in oriental costumes. Unfortunately, her show at the fair was a failure and eventually closed down.

Throughout the 20th century, the Foire du Trîne remained a major venue for popular entertainment: its atmosphere was captured in the 1920s and 1930s by news agencies like ‘Agence Rol’, ‘Meurisse’ or ‘Mondial Photo-Presse’ and in the 1950s and 1960s by famous photographers like Doisneau, Izis, or Depardon.

9 27-4-22_couronnement_de_la_Reine_[...]Agence_Rol

Above: Coronation of the Queen of the Foire au Pain d’épice, 27 avril 1922 , Agence Rol (BibliothĂšque nationale de France); below, Crowds at the fair, April 1924 
(BibliothĂšque nationale de France

10 19-4-24_foire_au_pain_d'Ă©pices_[...]Agence_Rol

On the BibliothĂšque de France Gallica Website you can listen to recordings of songs and music of the Foire du TrĂŽne, like Jean Nivel’s ‘Pots-pourris de marches, valses, tangos, boleros, javas, polkas, slow, fox’, from 1955, or Jean BĂ©rard playing his barrel organ in the 1960s.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance collections.

References:

Parade: la Foire du TrÎne, 1936-1947, photographies, Marcel Bouvet; présentées par Gérard Gagnepain (Pont l'Abbé, 2006).

Le cirque d'Izis: avec quatre compositions originales de Marc Chagall. Préface de Jacques Prévert (Monte-Carlo, 1965). LB.31.c.1694

Rosolen, AgnĂšs, De la foire au pain d'Ă©pice Ă  la foire du TrĂŽne (Charenton-le-Pont, 1985) Awaiting shelfmark



 

27 February 2017

An irony-free zone: early French translations of Jane Austen

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The British Library holds a world-class collection of Jane Austen material. The Library’s manuscript materials include, for instance, a collection of comments about Mansfield Park by family, friends and acquaintances compiled by Austen soon after publication. The Library possesses at least one copy of each of the first English printed editions of her work, and also holds the first full French translations of Sense and Sensibility (1815), Mansfield Park (1816), Pride and Prejudice (1822), and Northanger Abbey (1824), as well as the first translation into German of Persuasion (1822).

Both Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park were first translated into French in a much abridged form in four instalments in the Swiss periodical BibliothĂšque britannique (1813, 1815). (Unfortunately, the Library’s copy of this periodical, which disseminated British culture in continental Europe during the Napoleonic wars, was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.) By 1824, all of six of Austen’s major novels were available in French.

There are no known French reviews of these early translations, but the translators’ prefaces to the novels, the way in which they were translated and the changes that were made to the text can provide a great deal of information about the tastes and expectations of her readership and the reception of her novels in France and Switzerland in the early 19th century.

Raison et Sensibilité tp
Title-page of Raison et SensibilitĂ© ou les Deux ManiĂšres d’aimer ‘traduit librement de l’anglais’ (Paris, 1815) British Library RB.23.a.30556

In 1815, Isabelle de Montolieu, a well-known and successful Swiss novelist, published her ‘free translation’ of Sense and Sensibility as Raison et SensibilitĂ© ou les Deux ManiĂšres d’aimerThe Library’s copy includes the translator’s preface: Montolieu expresses her preference for this ‘new genre’ of English novel which has superseded that of ‘terreur’ and is confident that her French readers will enjoy a bit of ‘light literature’, ‘devoid of any political allusions’ after the troubled times they have lived through. 

Raison et Sensibilité preface
The opening of Montolieu’s preface to Raison et SensibilitĂ©

She presents her translation as ‘reasonably faithful until the end, where I have allowed myself, as is my custom, a few slight changes which I have deemed necessary’. She changes some forenames: Elinor Dashwood remains Elinor, but her sisters Marianne and Margaret become Maria and Emma. She alters and moralises the ending: Marianne rejects the reprobate Willoughby, now a widower, and he, seeing the error of his ways, marries Caroline (Eliza in the original) whom he had earlier seduced and abandoned. Madame Smith, who has taken in Caroline, is ‘delighted to save a soul from eternal damnation’. Montolieu, catering for a readership still in thrall to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Nouvelle HĂ©loĂŻse, produced a didactic and sentimental version of Austen’s novel. At this time, too, her fame far eclipsed Austen’s and so it’s no surprise that the publisher reissued this translation in 1828, with added illustrations, in an edition of Montolieu’s works .

Parc de Mansfeld
Title-page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines (Paris, 1816) C.194.a.1345.

The title page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines, states that the novel is ‘par l’auteur de Raison et SensibilitĂ©, ou Les deux maniĂšres d’aimer’, thus trading implicitly on the cachet of Montolieu. The translator, bashfully named as M. Henri V ******N., was Henri Villemain or Vilmain, a prolific translator and also a novelist in his own right.

Orgueil et Prévention
Title-page of Orgueil et Prévention (Paris, 1822) C.194.a.1254.

The Library holds one of the two early French translations of Pride and Prejudice, Orgueil et PrĂ©vention, also described as ‘par l’auteur de Raison et Sensibilité’, translated by ‘Mlle É

.***.’ This translator has been identified as EloĂŻse Perks, who, in her short preface, presents herself as a ‘jeune Ă©trangĂšre’ (young foreigner), and a novice writer imitating the ‘elegant pen’ and the ‘ good model’ of Montolieu, and adds that the translation of Raison et SensibilitĂ© ‘eut en France le plus grand succĂšs’. Perks also adds a few brief explanatory notes on English customs, food and place names, e.g. on mince pies (I, p.82) or the English Sunday (I, p. 94), and says that she intends to translate the as yet untranslated novels: this didn’t happen, so either her version wasn’t a success, or she was pipped at the post by other translators.

Abbaye de Northanger tp and frontispiece2
Title-page and frontispiece of L’Abbaye de Northanger (Paris, 1824) 12808.u.39.

The last novel to be translated was the posthumous Northanger Abbey, translated as L’Abbaye de Northanger by Mme Hyacinthe de F****, i.e. Hyacinthe de FerriĂšres, who was also a novelist. The author’s name is given on the title page, but Frenchified as Jeanne Austen. Henry Austen’s ‘Biographical Notice’ is included, though without the Postscript, and with some omissions and curious errors: notably, John for (Samuel) Johnson, Arbley for Arblay (Fanny Burney), and, significantly, the translator omits the sentence ending: ‘she partook largely in all the best gifts of the comic muse’. Despite this, it must be admitted that Henry’s notice on his deceased sister does emphasise her piety and decorum.

The British Library’s copy includes the engraved frontispiece illustrating and telescoping the episode where the heroine first sees the large chest in her room and then tries to open it when she is interrupted (the figure at the door). Our copy, in three volumes, bears the stamp of the ‘cabinet de lecture’ (circulating library) of G. Dufour et Cie in Amsterdam. It has a British Museum stamp dated 16 September 1876, and is housed in modern box with the label ‘Conserved under the Adopt a Book  Appeal [by] The Jane Austen Society of North America’. The other early translations into French and German that the Library holds were, by contrast, all acquired relatively recently.

Cumulatively, these translations enable us to study how Jane Austen was interpreted in early French culture and how they convey the spirit of the original text. This early French Jane Austen is a somewhat formulaic novelist of sensibility devoid of her trademark sense of irony and social satire.

Teresa Vernon, Lead Curator, Romance Collections.

References/Further Reading

The Reception of Jane Austen in Europe, edited by Brian Southam and A.A. Mandel (London, 2014). YC.2016.a.4133

Lucile Trunel, Les Ă©ditions françaises de Jane Austen 1815-2007. L’apport de l’histoire Ă©ditoriale Ă  la comprĂ©hension de la rĂ©ception de l’auteur en France (Paris, 2010). YF.2014.a.5858

Valérie Cossy, Jane Austen in Switzerland: a study of the early French translations (Geneva, 2006). YD.2006.a.4670

 

19 January 2017

The art of ruining a friendship: Zola, CĂ©zanne and L’ƒuvre

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Once again Christmas is over, and many of us will have been fortunate enough to receive a book among our presents. Some may be a delight, others a disappointment, as in the case of the gift which Stephen Leacock’s young Hoodoo McFiggin found in his Christmas stocking:

‘It’s a book,’ he said, as he unwrapped it. ‘I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh, I hope it’s adventures! I’ll read it all morning.' No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a small family Bible. [
] After that he took his book and read some adventures called ‘Genesis’ till breakfast-time. (Literary Lapses: Montreal, 1910; British Library 012331.e.44)

Unlike Hoodoo, most of us have the option of returning and exchanging a book which might not have been quite what we had hoped for. Although this may require tact, it is rare for an unwelcome gift to produce such drastic consequences as the one which Paul CĂ©zanne received from his friend Émile Zola in 1886.

As part of his Rougon-Macquart cycle, a series of twenty novels chronicling the ‘natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire’, Zola had begun work earlier that year on a story entitled L’ƒuvre (translated into English as His Masterpiece: London, 1902; 1094.k.8). Although he was initially inspired by Balzac’s cycle La ComĂ©die humaine, Zola planned not merely to depict contemporary society but the workings of environment and heredity among the many members of a single family.

Zola Oeuvre 12517.e.33
Émile Zola, L’ƒuvre (Paris, 1886) 12517.e.33.

In earlier books Zola had portrayed life in Paris and the provinces and the fortunes of market traders, miners, prostitutes, absinthe addicts and the staff of a department store. Here, though, he turned his attention to the world of art, with which he was well acquainted through his friendship with CĂ©zanne. The two had known each other since their boyhood in Aix-en-Provence, the model for Zola’s Plassans, home to AdĂ©laĂŻde Fouque, founder of the three branches of the Rougon-Macquart dynasty and great-grandmother of Claude Lantier, the protagonist of L’ƒuvre.

Zola CĂ©zanne letter
An illustrated letter from CĂ©zanne to Zola written in 1866. Reproduced in John Rewald, CĂ©zanne: sa vie - son Ɠuvre - son amitiĂ© pour Zola (Paris, 1939) 010655.i.24.

Unlike other members of the Macquart family who become labourers, soldiers or farmers, Claude Lantier shows artistic talent and settles in Paris to pursue his career as a painter. He has less in common with his murderous engine-driver brother Jacques (La BĂȘte humaine) and half-sister, the notorious prostitute Nana, than with his second brother, the activist miner Étienne (Germinal); however, Claude’s revolutionary spirit manifests itself not in the struggle against corrupt industrialists but against another kind of conservatism – the stifling influence of academicism on art.

Zola suggested titles 1
A list of titles which Zola considered for L’ƒuvre. Reproduced in Émile Zola and the Arts, ed. Jean-Max Guieu and Alison Hilton (Washington D.C, 1988)

We are given a glimpse of Claude’s revolt against convention when, in the novel’s opening pages, he takes in a young woman, Christine Hallegrain, stranded late at night in Paris on her way to a post in Passy:

What especially frightened her were some sketches in oils that hung frameless from the walls, a serried array of sketches reaching to the floor [
] She had never seen such terrible painting, so coarse, so glaring, showing a violence of colour that jarred upon her nerves like a carter’s oath heard on the doorstep of an inn.

Clearly this is something very different from the staid historical, mythological and Biblical subjects favoured by the establishment, and it is not surprising that Claude’s work fails to find acceptance into the annual Salon of the AcadĂ©mie des Beaux-Arts. When a group of rejected artists sets up a Salon des RefusĂ©s to display their paintings, his Plein Air creates a sensation, recalling Manet’s DĂ©jeuner sur l’herbe in its juxtaposition of clothed male and nude female figures, the latter modelled on Christine, who becomes his mistress, the mother of his son Jacques, and finally his wife. They move to the country in an attempt to draw inspiration from the rural surroundings, but this proves a failure, and at Christine’s instigation he returns to Paris. After repeated rejections he embarks on a gigantic painting of the Île de la CitĂ© which becomes an obsession as he constantly revises and repaints it even as his neglected young son lies dying. It is not this painting but a study of the dead boy, ‘a masterpiece of limpidity and power to which was added a note of boundless melancholy’, which is accepted for the Salon, though arousing such controversy that Claude is driven back to his ‘masterpiece’, the huge landscape which is never completed and ultimately costs him his marriage, his friendships and his life as he hangs himself in his studio.

Zola Ouevre KTC.35.b.5.
Cartoon of Zola, representing L’ƒuvre, from: H. Lebourgeois, L'ƒuvre de Zola : 16 simili aquarelles (Paris, 1898) KTC.35.b.5.

The one friend who attends his funeral is Pierre Sandoz, a novelist who, like Zola, is engaged on a cycle of Naturalist novels charting the fortunes of an extended family. Zola himself had written many articles on painting as a young journalist and had promoted the work of Manet in particular, and when CĂ©zanne received his copy of L’ƒuvre it was not difficult for him to interpret Sandoz as a self-portrait of the author and Lantier as a study of CĂ©zanne himself. Another Claude, Monet, felt impelled to write an open letter shortly after the novel’s publication declaring that he did not recognize himself or any of his fellow Impressionists in it. However, the damage was done; with impeccable politeness CĂ©zanne penned a thank-you letter to Zola, parcelled up the book, returned it to the author, and broke off all contact with him.

As she sits for the nude in the ill-fated ‘masterpiece’, Christine reflects bitterly on Claude’s first painting of her which had been the source of all her misfortunes: ‘It had come to life again, it rose from the dead, endowed with greater vitality than herself, to finish killing her
’ It may not be fanciful to see here a foreshadowing of another ominous portrait in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which appeared four years later (London, 1890; Eccles 395). Sadly, in human terms L’ƒuvre possessed a far greater destructive power than Zola had ever imagined.

Susan Halstead,Content Specialist (Humanities & Social Sciences) Research Services

09 December 2016

Vincent Cabot, a 16th-century Jurist from Toulouse

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Vincent Cabot (c. 1560-1620) was a jurist from Toulouse who became a professor of canon and civil law at Orléans University before going back to Toulouse where he became President of the Parliament.

1 Cabot Tumulus tp
Title page of Vincent Cabot Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolÊi... tumulus (Orléans, 1592) British Library 1230.c.32
.

The British Library holds two of his works, including his contribution to a collection of epitaphs in memory of Michel Viole, a Bible scholar who died in 1591 and was for thirty years abbot of Saint-Euverte of OrlĂ©ans. The printed work, entitled Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus, published by Saturnin and Fabien Hotot in OrlĂ©ans in 1592, records eulogies read during the abbot’s four days funeral, led by Jean de l’Aubespine, Bishop of the city.

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Hebrew inscription, and opening of Cabot’s funeral oration for Michel Viole, from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis Violéi... tumulus.

Vincent Cabot’s Latin funeral oration, written in prose, is the first text of the compilation, and displays the author’s learning in honour of the deceased. The mise en page of the eulogy, with marginal references in italic, highlights Cabot’s learned references to Latin and Greek authors as well as the Scriptures.

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Sonnets from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

The whole collection of epitaphs is skilfully printed with different typescripts and ornamental woodcuts, and makes a creative use of italics and capitals, which highlight the wealth and variety of the contributions. A hundred scholars from OrlĂ©ans have contributed pieces in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, French, Gascon, Flemish and Italian. The volume includes two well-designed fold-out pages displaying a tomb inscribed with epitaphs.

4 Cabot Tumulus fold-out
One of the fold-out pages from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

Vincent Cabot’s Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum was printed in two distinct editions in Paris (by Claude de Monstr’oeil and Jean RichĂ©) and Hanau (Germany) in 1598. The copy of the Paris edition recently acquired by the British library, preserved in its original white soft vellum binding, comes from the dispersal of the Early European collections of the Los Angeles Law library, which were sold at auction by Bonhams in London in March and May 2014.

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Title page of Vincent Cabot, Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum (Paris, 1598). RB.23.a.36826

Cabot’s prefatory epistle is dedicated to Petrus Faber, Pierre Du Faur de Saint-Jorry, who was president of theToulouse Parliament before Vincent Cabot, and called him back from OrlĂ©ans to Toulouse as a law professor. Cabot’s work deals with contemporary political issues, including the relation between the monarchy and the Church (e.g. the role of kings in the election of bishops), and royal succession (e.g. the right of women to inherit the crown).

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Dedication to Petrus Faber, from Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

A further work by Cabot, Les Politiques was published posthumously in Toulouse in 1630 by LĂ©onard Campistron, who dedicated the book to Cardinal Richelieu. Cabot makes a profuse use of lay and religious authorities, in particular Jean Bodin’s RĂ©publique and NiccolĂČ Machiavelli. A learned scholar and jurist, Cabot is a pioneer of political science and promotes in his work a centralised and moderate monarchy.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator Romance collections

7 Cabot Variarum index
Pages frrom Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

11 November 2016

Afire for peace: Henri Barbusse’s Le Feu (1916)

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The family of Henri Barbusse originated from a part of France with a strong radical tradition. He was born in AsniĂšres-sur-Seine in 1873 to an English mother who died when Henri was three years old and a father whose Protestant forebears had lived in the hamlet of Anduze, near AlĂšs, as far back as the 17th century. The Protestants of the CĂ©vennes had suffered repeated persecution, and Adrien Barbusse, a journalist and theatre critic on Le SiĂšcle, was anti-clerical and anti-monarchist by conviction. Not surprisingly, his son grew up to be an atheist, humanist and socialist, who, at the time of the Dreyfus affair, was convinced of the accused’s innocence. Henri wrote articles for La Paix par le Droit supporting international arbitration in place of war, and was also an enthusiastic supporter of Esperanto as a means to this end.

Barbusse portrait Lariviere YF.2010.a.19040
Portrait of Henri Barbusse from Eklumo en la abismo (DĂŒsseldorf, 1923; British Library YF.2010.a.19040) a translation into Esperanto of  La Lueur dans l'abîme. (Paris, 1920; 08007.ee.6)

His earliest literary efforts were in poetry rather than political journalism, and in 1892 his entry for a poetry competition launched by L’Echo de Paris attracted the attention of the renowned poet Catulle MendĂšs, whose daughter HĂ©lyonne he subsequently married. His first collection of poems, Pleureuses (Paris, 1895; reprinted 1920: 011483.c.74) was followed in 1908 by his first novel, L’Enfer (W16/3331), the story of a young bank clerk from the provinces who, bored and lonely in his dingy Paris lodgings, observes his neighbours through a crack in the wall. The sense of pessimism and human isolation which permeates its pages reflects the author’s awareness of the nationalism and militarism with which France was riddled, as destructive as the cancer destroying the body of one of the characters.

How prophetic this insight had been became clear with the outbreak of war in 1914. Although aged 41 and suffering from a lung condition, Barbusse did not hesitate to enlist, and in December 1914 joined the 231st infantry regiment, serving as a stretcher-bearer in the front line. Transferred to Artois, he was twice mentioned in despatches for bravery before dysentery and chest problems caused him to be invalided out into a desk job in 1916. With time to reflect on his experiences, he began work on the book nowadays regarded as his masterpiece – Le Feu.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. cover
Cover of Le Feu (Paris, 1916) 12548.tt.32

It was a shrewd move to publish the novel in serial form in L’Oeuvre, for this enabled Barbusse to outwit another enemy: censorship. His raw and outspoken portrayal of life in the trenches was calculated to offend the sensibilities of those who entertained sentimental notions of glorious death on the battlefield, not least by his unsparing use of the ‘gros mots’ employed by the common soldiers – farmhands, shopkeepers, manual labourers – experiencing the monotony, squalor and misery of life under enemy bombardment. With a blend of black humour and clinical precision he describes the coarse jokes and unexpected camaraderie of men all too conscious that at any time they may end up like the muddied, seared and mutilated remnants of humanity whose scattered limbs lie all around them. The first-aid post provides scant relief; the overtaxed doctors, trying to stretch their meagre resources to deal with the carnage confronting them, can do little to treat the horrific injuries of hundreds of casualties.

In Chapter 23, the narrator and his comrades spend a few days on leave in Paris, a completely different world where they encounter pen-pushers, comfortable in reserved occupations, and gushing women with romantic visions of young heroes rushing to die with a smile on their lips. The narrator swiftly realizes that there is little point in trying to convey to them any idea of the true nature of war – the purpose, as it were, of Barbusse’s novel - and the closing pages reveal an army of mud-caked ghosts stumbling about in the devastated landscape, ‘like the Cyranos or Don Quixotes that they still are’, as they acknowledge that they were no more than ‘honest killers. (
) The act of killing is always ignoble – necessary sometimes, but always ignoble’. In the final paragraph, a solitary voice declares, ‘If this present war had advanced progress by a single step, its miseries and massacres will count for little’, as a single ray of light breaks through the storm-clouds, `proof none the less that the sun exists’.

Barbusse portrait Muter 08282.a.40.
Portrait of Barbusse from Lettre aux intellectuels (Rome, 1921; 08282.a.40).

The novel inevitably provoked strong and frequently hostile reactions, but its significance was rapidly recognized, and in December 1916 Barbusse received a letter informing him that it had won the Prix Goncourt. It would pave the way for other outstanding works based on wartime experiences, including Roland DorgelĂšs’s Les Croix de bois (Paris, 1919; 012547.aa.12) and Erich Maria Remarque’s Im Westen nicht Neues (Berlin, 1929; W13/8499). Barbusse himself became, in 1917, the co-founder of the Association rĂ©publicaine des anciens combattants (ARAC) and a supporter of the Russian Revolution, making several journeys to the USSR and writing a biography of Stalin (Staline. Un monde nouveau vu à travers un homme: Paris, 1935; 20003.a.24). That same year, he died suddenly, aged 62, on 30 August during a visit to Moscow (some sources claimed that he was poisoned on Stalin’s orders, although his long-standing pulmonary trouble makes the official cause of death – pneumonia – at least plausible). He was also, however, one of the founders of the pacifist Amsterdam-Pleyel movement, and a prominent member of the Front populaire, attracting huge crowds to pay their last respects when, on 7 September 1935, he was buried close to the Mur des FĂ©dĂ©rĂ©s in the cemetery of PĂšre Lachaise.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. dedication
Barbusse’s dedication of Le feu

Le Feu bears a dedication to the memory of Barbusse’s comrades who fell beside him at Crouy and on Hill 119. Within a month of his joining his regiment, around half the men in his unit were killed on the front near Soissons. On Armistice Day, whatever Barbusse’s subsequent political views, it is fitting to remember not only those soldiers and the fallen on both sides but also his testimony to them as a moral witness.

Susan Halstead Content Specialist (Humanities and Social Sciences) Research Engagement

13 September 2016

More Virgil than Cervantes

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The British Library has recently purchased a rare copy of a little-known French verse adaptation of Cervantes’ novel Don Quijote. The AbbĂ© Jouffreau de Lagerie (or Lazerie), published his Don Quichote: PoĂ«me hĂ©roĂŻ-comique, in two parts in 1782-3. Biographical information is extremely scarce and Jouffreau de Lagerie is in fact better known as the anonymous author of a collection of erotic verse, Le Joujou des demoiselles, of which there were several editions. (The British Library possesses three: [Paris, 1750?] (P.C.27.a.35), [Paris, 1775?] (P.C 27.a.39), and one with the false imprint Larnaca, [1881?]( P.C.17.b.15).

Quichote1
Title-page of Don Quichote. Poëme héroï-comique (Monatauban, 1782-3) RB.23.a.36964

The PoĂ«me is divided into 5 chants or cantos, preceded by a prose introduction. It is composed in the classical French metre of rhyming alexandrine couplets. The narrative draws on Cervantes’ novel but it is not in any way a version of it. It opens with Don Quixote’s distress at Dulcinea’s transformation into a peasant girl by the sorcerer Malembrin who has also carried her off to the Underworld. Encouraged by la Folie (Folly), the knight and Sancho Panza do battle with Malembrin and his army, led by the giant Freston. To save his forces from certain defeat the sorcerer transforms them into windmills, which inflict great damage on both knight and squire. Transformations preserve his army in two subsequent engagements. Folly returns to encourage Quixote, promising the return of Dulcinea and urging him on to new adventures. Spurred on, Quixote rescues Queen Lucinda from a gang of robbers. Malembrin now conspires with l’Amour (the God of Love), to make the knight fall in love with Lucinda. The King of the gods, alarmed at Quixote’s lapse, complains to Folly who, in the guise of a wronged queen, seeks Quixote’s aid. He abandons Lucinda, who takes her own life. Quixote descends to the Underworld, guided by Folly, where with the aid of other knights errant he defeats Malembrin. Dulcinea is rescued and freed from the evil spell.

Quichote2
Quixote leaves his house, led by Folly and Love. From an edition of Francois Filleul de Saint-Martin’s French translation, Histoire de l’admirable Don Quichotte de la Manche (Paris, 1741) Cerv.131. vol. 1, facing p. 11.

Malembrin and Freston both occur in Cervantes’ novel. Malambruno is the giant and sorcerer in the elaborate charade that is the ‘Dueña Dolorida’ episode (Don Quijote, II: 38-41); FrestĂłn is the enchanter whom Quixote blames for his failures. Queen Lucinda, however, is clearly not the beloved of Cardenio (DQ. I: 24-37), but the Duchesse de MĂ©doc from the second continuation of François Filleul de Saint-Martin’s version of Don Quijote (Paris, 1713; Cerv.126.). In Livre III, ch. 42, Don Quixote and Sancho rescue the Duke and Duchess from a band of robbers, as in the PoĂ«me. Sancho’s elevation to the status of knight-errant also derives from the continuations.

In addition to the windmills episode, other notable incidents from Cervantes’ novel appear in the PoĂ«me in a new guise. Malembrin’s transformation of his army into sheep to save them in the second encounter with Don Quixote is adapted from the knight’s mistaking a flock of sheep for an army (DQ, I: 18). The motif of a damsel in distress employed as a ruse echoes the role of Dorotea as the Princess Micomicona (DQ, I, 29-30) and the ‘Dueña dolorida’ episode.

As the opening lines suggest, however, what most characterizes Jouffreau de Lagerie’s work is its imitation of Virgil’s Aeneid. . The first line clearly echoes Virgil’s opening lines: ‘Arms and the man I sing who
 exiled by fate’:

Je chante ce HĂ©ros qui loin de sa patrie
Fit revivre les lois de la chevalerie (Canto 1, p. 7)
(‘I sing of the Hero who, far from his native land,
revived the code of knight errantry’)

Quichotte3

To the world of chivalry and evil sorcerers is added that of the Classical gods and goddesses. So we have Folly (Greek AtĂ«), Love (i.e. Eros/Cupid) and a ‘Roi des Dieux’, fancifully named ‘Tulican’ who nonetheless has the role of Zeus/Jupiter. Narrative motifs involving the gods can be traced to Virgil. For example, Folly’s tearful plea to Tulican on behalf of Quixote after Malembrin’s magic saves Freston’s army (Canto 2) echoes Venus’s plea to Jupiter to spare the Aeneas and the Trojans (Aeneid, Book I, lines 229 ff). Earlier, Folly successfully pleads with the god for the recovery of her freedom from la Sagesse, goddess of Wisdom (Canto 1). More blatant still, the Queen Lucinda episode, specifically the boar hunt and Lucinda’s suicide, derives from Virgil’s account of the fatal love of Dido for Aeneas (Aeneid, Book IV).

Jouffreau also employs extended similes, so typical of Virgil. Examples include the unlikely description of Sancho in battle as a lion defending his cubs against a hunter (Canto 2, p. 28); the likening of the dust clouds stirred up by Freston’s army to snow whipped up by the North wind (Canto 3, p. 4); and the comparison of the fall of the giant Morgan at Quixote’s hand to the felling of a pine tree (Canto 3, p. 9).

Unlike his Jouffreau’s anthology of erotic verse, this work was not a success to judge by the existence apparently of just one edition. Evidently drawing on the version of Filleul de Saint-Martin and its two continuations, Don Quichote emerges as a scholarly exercise in re-creating Classical Latin verse in French hexameters. Jouffreau’s Sancho is transformed from savvy peasant to knightly hero, as indeed is Quixote himself. He is worlds away from the comedic, but essentially human would-be knight-errant whose bookish ideals clash with the reality of Golden Age Spain. And surely it is only Cupid’s arrow that would have rendered Cervantes’ Don Quixote unfaithful to Dulcinea?

Geoff West, formerly Lead Curator Hispanic Collections

 

06 September 2016

From China to Peru

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Dr Johnson opened his ‘The vanity of Human Wishes’ in 1749 with the memorable:

Let Observation with extensive View,
Survey Mankind, from China to Peru;

Donald Greene argues that Johnson didn’t mean just the eastern and western extremes of the map but that for him Peru signified the atrocities wrought by the Spaniards on the Indians while China represented wisdom and culture.

What possibly underlay Johnson’s view was the synthetic proverb literature, exemplified by this recently-acquired little book, which showed Chinese wisdom to be comparable with European. (There was no such bibliography for Peru.)

Chinese Proverbs
Marc-Antoine Eidous, Proverbes et apophthegmes chinois, comparés avec les proverbes des autres peuples; pour faire suite aux Moralistes Anciens (Paris: A. J. Dugour, an 5 de la République) British Library RB.23.a.36863

The proverbs first appeared in Marc-Antoine Eidous’s Hau kiou choaan, ou Histoire Chinoise traduite du Chinois (1765).  Or  rather, that’s what it says here in the ‘Avertissement’.  In fact, it was ‘traduit du chinois en anglais’ by James Wilkinson, edited by Thomas Percy (he of the Percy Ballads), and put into French by Monsieur Eidous. By the way, this was a ‘pleasing history’ story rather than hard history.


Pleasing History frontispiece

Frontispiece and title-page of Hau kiou choaan or the pleasing history. A translation from the Chinese language. To which are added, I. The argument or story of a Chinese play, ... III. Fragments of Chinese poetry. (London, 1774) 243.i.30-31.

Pleasing history tp

Proverbes et apophthegmes prints all the proverbs, but trims some of the notes.

There really is nothing here that an 18th-century French reader wouldn’t recognise:

A boat whose planks are affixed with but bird-lime does not long resist the violence of the waves.

One may remove a blemish from a diamond by polishing it: but that of a prince who does not keep his word is never effaced.

And as an example of the comparative method:

Il est important de bien commencer en toutes choses: la faute la plus légÚre peut avor des suites funestes.
    Ce proverbe est le mĂȘme dans plusieurs langues: En latin: Dimidium facti, qui bene coepit habet.  En français: De bon commencement bonne fin.


Chinese proverbs pp12-13
 Two pages of proverbs from Proverbes et apophthegmes chinois


Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Studies

19 August 2016

Olympictures

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As the 2016 Olympics draw towards their close, in the spirit of Olympic internationalism and respect between nations, we thought we’d pay a BL European Studies homage to the successes enjoyed by Team GB with images from our historic collections showing some of the sports in which British athletes have won gold this year.

Britain’s very first medal in Rio was a gold â€“ for swimmer Adam Peaty. Clearly he didn’t learn from the clumsy figures in Melchisedech Thevenot’s manual L’art de nager, first published in 1696, some of whom appear to be drowning rather than swimming successfully:

Olympics Swimming 1568-4677 pl.1 Olympics Swimming 1568-4677 pl.7

Olympics Swimming 1568-4677 pl.18 Olympics Swimming 1568-4677 pl.21
Melchisedech Thevenot,  L’art de nager ...QuatriĂšme Ă©dition (Paris, 1782)

The last of these looks as if he might have just executed a rather clumsy dive – not something you would find synchro diving winners Jack Laugher and Chris Mears doing. Diving developed as a sport in Sweden and Germany in the early 19th century, and was linked to the development of gymnastics, a sport where Britain won Olympic gold for the first time in Rio. In honour of Max Whitlock’s two winning disciplines, here are some 19th-century German pommel horse and floor exercises:

Olympics gymnastics 785.f.29 Pommel Olympics gymnastics 785.f.29 floor
Illustrations from Hermann Robolsky und Adolph Töppe, Abbildungen von Turn-Uebungen (Berlin 1845)

It’s been a good year all round for British tennis, with Andy Murray’s second Wimbledon singles title and successful defence of his 2012 Olympic one. In 18th-century France, his sport would have been jeu de paume, illustrated here, with some of the tools involved in racquet making, from an encyclopaedia of arts and professions:

Olympics tennis 1811.c.20 pl. 3
François Alexandre de Garsault, Art du Paumier-Raquetier, et de la paume, from Descriptions des Arts et Métiers, vol. 7 (Paris, 1767) 1811.c.20.(7.)

Tennis is a rather stereotypically British sport, as is anything to do with horses, which brings us to dressage. Many of our books on ‘horse dancing’ are more haute Ă©cole than modern Olympic dressage, but we think Charlotte Dujardin might recognise these moves from an 18th-century Spanish manual: 

Olympics Dressage 7907.e Circulo Olympics Dressage 7907.e pasear
Salvador Rodriguez Jordan, Escuela de a cavallo dividida en tres tratados
 (Madrid, 1751) 7907.e.

Equestrianism has long been seen as the sport of kings, but if there’s one discipline where Britain has ruled in Rio, it’s cycling. This illustration from a late 19th-century German book suggests that this too was once the pastime of princes, here Ludwig Ferdinand and Alfons of Bavaria, though Britain’s lycra-clad winners – too many to name individually – with their lightweight, high-tech machines, might find it harder going with tweeds, bow ties, boaters and heavy bikes.

Olympics cycling  YA.1989.b.4724
Two Bavarian princes and their bikes, from Der Radfahrsport in Bild und Wort (Munich, 1897) YA.1989.b.4724

Finally (and with apologies to all the wonderful medallists whose sports we’ve had to miss out) a reminder that the modern Olympics were the brainchild of a Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin, and that the first modern Games in 1896 were held, like their ancient predecessors, in Greece – although in Athens, not Olympia, as this souvenir album, with Coubertin’s likeness on the cover, makes clear.

Olympics Anamnestikon 1896 1788.d.3
Cover of Anamnēstikon leukƍma tƍn Olympiakƍn Agƍnƍn tou 1896 (Athens, 1896) 1788.d.3.

 

12 August 2016

Delacroix, Chassériau and Shakespeare

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The popularity of Shakespeare’s plays in France in the 1840s can be gauged by the fact that two albums of Shakespeare illustrations, EugĂšne Delacroix’s Hamlet, and ThĂ©odore ChassĂ©riau’s Othello,were published within a few months of each other, in 1843 and 1844. Though now considered to be masterpieces, the initial critical response to both publications was generally negative. Delacroix’s work was compared unfavourably to his earlier Faust illustrations (Paris, 1828; British Library 1875.b.9.) while ChassĂ©riau’s volume was judged to be an imitation of the older artist’s recently-published album.

Delacroix’s lithograhic suite comprised 13 plates executed between 1834 and 1843. It had a print run of 80 and was published by the artist himself. Its commercial failure did not deter Paul Meurice, who acquired the lithographic stones of the work at the posthumous sale of Delacroix’s studio, from publishing a second edition in 1864, a year after the artist’s death. Meurice was a collector of Delacroix’s work and his personal association with Hamlet – he had co-authored an adaptation of the play with Alexandre Dumas pĂšre â€“ may have contributed to this decision. The new edition incorporated three additional plates which Delacroix had left out of the 1843 edition.

CM DELACROIX 1
EugĂšne Delacroix, Hamlet: seize sujets.(Paris, 1864) 1872.c.28.

Hamlet was a constant source of inspiration for Delacroix who, to a certain extent, identified with Shakespeare’s hero. An early self-portrait is thought to represent the artist as Hamlet (although Walter Scott’s Ravenswood or Byron’s Childe Harold have also been proposed). During his stay in London in 1825 Delacroix may have seen Edmund Kean perform Hamlet. In the same year he painted one of his first works inspired by Shakespeare, Hamlet and the King. Delacroix saw the play again two years later when it was performed by Charles Kemble’s company at the OdĂ©on theatre in Paris in 1827. Scenes from Hamlet would inspire several works over the following 30 years, the 1843 lithographic suite occupying a central position, some of its plates being reworkings of earlier compositions, while they themselves served for the elaboration of later works. Plate 3, for example, dated 1843, which shows the ghost of Hamlet’s father asking Hamlet to avenge his death, is closely based on the 1825 painting.

   CM DELACROIX 2  CM DELACROIX 3
Lithograph, ‘Je suis l’esprit de ton pĂšre’, Plate 3 from Delacroix’s Hamlet and the 1825 painting Hamlet and the King  (Krakow, Jagiellonian University Museum)

Likewise, the composition of Plate 13, dated 1843, showing the death of Ophelia had already been used in a virtually monochromatic 1838 painting, now in Munich, and was re-used in 1844 (Winterthur, Oskar Reinhart Collection), and, again (but in reverse), in the 1853 Louvre version.

CM DELACROIX 5
Above
: Lithograph; ‘Et d’abord ses habits Ă©talĂ©s et flottants, la soutiennent sur l’eau pendant quelques instants’ (Plate 13 from Delacroix’s Hamlet). Below: Two painted versions of the same subject from 1838 (Munich, Neue Pinakothek) and 1853 (Paris. MusĂ©e du Louvre).

CM DELACROIX 6  CM DELACROIX 7

The composition of Plate 14, showing Hamlet and Horatio with the gravedigger holding Yorick’s skull (Act 5, scene 1), dated 1843, had also been used in a 1839 painting.

   CM DELACROIX 8  CM DELACROIX 9
‘C’est la caboche d’Yorick, fou du roi’ (Plate 14 from Delacroix’s Hamlet) and the 1839 painting Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard (Paris. MusĂ©e du Louvre).

Delacroix’s last Hamlet work was the 1859 painting which combines the scene with Yorick’s skull with that of Ophelia’s funeral. On this occasion Delacroix went back even further, to his first Hamlet –inspired work, a lithograph he published in 1828


CM DELACROIX 9a
EugĂšne Delacroix, Hamlet and Horatio in the graveyard, 1859. (Paris, MusĂ©e du Louvre)

Like Delacroix, ThĂ©odore ChassĂ©riau (1819-56) was a great admirer of Shakespeare and produced a number of paintings inspired by Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. The originality and special qualities of his work were understood by few of his contemporaries; most saw his early works as imitations of Ingres (his teacher) and his later ones of Delacroix. ChassĂ©riau’s most important graphic work, his Othello prints, a series of 15 etchings published in September 1844, were naturally seen as an example of the latter tendency, even though they differ in both mood and technique. The contrast between the contemplative mood of ChassĂ©riau’s etchings with their emphasis on intense emotion, as opposed to the narrative action and dramatic power of Delacroix’s lithographs, was recognised by later critics.

The publication was commissioned by EugĂšne Piot, art historian, collector, antiquary, and publisher and editor of Le Cabinet de l'amateur et de l'antiquaire, an illustrated journal published between 1842 and 1846 (P.P.1916). ChassĂ©riau’s work was published in an edition of 25 copies as a separate album under the imprint of the Cabinet de l’amateur, not in the journal itself as is often claimed. 

    CM DELACROIX 10 CHASSERIAU Othello et Desdemone  CM DELACROIX 12
ThĂ©odore ChassĂ©riau, Othello and Desdemona in Venice, 1850. (Paris, MusĂ©e du Louvre), and the lithograph ‘Elle me remercia et me dit 
She thanked me and bade me
’ (plate 2 from Othello, reproduced in Jay M. Fisher, ThĂ©odore ChassĂ©riau, illustrations for Othello (Baltimore, 1979). X.425/4729.

Like Delacroix, ChassĂ©riau re-used compositions from his etchings. Two paintings of 1849 and 1850, both now in the Louvre – Othello and Desdemona in Venice (illustrating Act 1, scene 3 of the play), and Desdemona (Act 4, scene 3) – are, respectively, variations of plates 2 and 8.

    CM DELACROIX 11 ChassĂ©riau_-_Le_coucher_de_DesdĂ©mone_(1849)  CM DELACROIX 13 Chasseriau Othello Clark Desd Emilia
ThĂ©odore ChassĂ©riau, Desdemona, 1849. (Paris, MusĂ©e du Louvre) and ‘Si je meurs avant toi 
 If I do die before thee
’ (plate 8 from Othello)

A complete reassessment of ChassĂ©riau’s work had to wait, however, until the last quarter of the 20th century, when the catalogue raisonnĂ© of his paintings and prints was published in 1974, followed by a remarkable catalogue of the Othello etchings in 1979, to accompany an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The great retrospective exhibition in Paris, Strasbourg, and New York in 2002-03, and its monumental catalogue, finally revealed the full range of ChassĂ©riau’s achievements – as a graphic artist, a painter of decorations for public buildings, an orientalist and an artist whose work is not only an amalgam of Ingres and Delacroix but also a prefiguration of Gustave Moreau and Puvis de Chavannes.

Chris Michaelides, Curator Romance Collections

References:

Lee Johnson, The Paintings of EugĂšne Delacroix: a critical catalogue. (Oxford, 1981-) YV.1987.b.591.(vols 3 and 4)

Lee Johnson, ‘Delacroix, Dumas and “Hamlet”’, The Burlington Magazine, vol.123, no 945 (Dec. 1981), 717-723. P.P.1931.pcs.

Arlette SĂ©rullaz & Yves Bonnefoy, Delacroix & Hamlet (Paris, 1993). YA.1994.a.12419.

Paul Joannides, ‘Delacroix and modern literature’, in The Cambridge Companion to Delacroix (ed. Beth Wright). (Cambridge, 2001), pp. 130-153. YC.2001.b.973.

Marc Sandoz, Théodore ChassĂ©riau, 1819-1856 : catalogue raisonné des peintures et estampes (Paris, 1974). X.423/2498

ChassĂ©riau, un autre romantisme, ed. Stéphane Guégan, Vincent Pomarède, Louis-Antoine Prat (Paris, 2002). LB.31.b.25724. (English ed. Théodore ChassĂ©riau, 1819-1856 : the unknown romantic. (New York, New Haven, 2002). LC.31.b.161)