Jean-Francois de Bastide – La Petite Maison, 1758

———————————————————————————————–Art in Fiction

J Bastide-reader- 1.jpg

Mélite, struck by this coup d’oeil, began to praise attentively and lost the desire to tease Trémicour. As she had lived without coquetry and without lovers, she had applied herself to self-instruction, whereas other women learned to love and to deceive, and she really had taste and acquaintances; she appreciated at a glance the talent of the most famous artists, who themselves owed to her esteem for masterpieces that immortality which so many women often prevent them from deserving by their love for trifles.

She praised the lightness of the chisel of the ingenious Pineau [3], who had presided over the sculpture; she admired the talents of Dandrillon [4], who had employed all his industry to preserve the most imperceptible delicacy of carpentry and sculpture; but above all, losing sight of the importunities to which she exposed herself to Trémicour by raising his vanity, she lavished upon him the praises which he deserved by his taste and choice.

“That pleases me”, she said; that is how I like to employ the advantages of fortune. It is no longer a small house: it is the temple of genius and taste …

– That is how the asylum of love must be”, he said tenderly. Without knowing that this god, who would have created other miracles for you, you feel that, to inspire, we must at least appear inspired by him …

– I think as you do, ‘she said; but why then, as I have heard, do so many petites maisons display bad taste?

– It is because those who possess them have desire without love”, he replied; “It is because love had not stopped that you would one day come to them.”

Mélite listened, and still would have listened further, but a kiss pressed to her hand told her that Trémicour had come there to pay homage to all the agreeable things he would find occasion to tell her about. She rose to see other rooms. The Marquis, who had observed her so touched by the beauty of the salon, and who had better things to show, hoped that more tender objects would touch her more, and was careful to keep her from running to her destiny. He gave her his hand, and they went right into a bedroom.

This room is square and panelled; a bed of daffodil coloured Péquin cloth trimmed with the most beautiful colours is enclosed in a niche placed in front of one of the windows that overlook the garden. It has not forgotten to place mirrors in the four corners. This room, moreover, ended in vault that contains in a circular frame a painting where Peter [5] has painted with all his art Hercules in the arms of Morpheus, awakened by Love. All the panels are finished in a soft sulphur colour; the marquetry in the parquet floor is of amaranth and cedar woods, the marbles are turquoise blue. Delightful bronzes and porcelain are placed, with choice and without confusion, on marble console tables distributed under the four mirrors; And, lastly, beautiful furniture of various shapes and forms that relate to the ideas everywhere expressed in this house, obliging the most frigid minds to feel a little of the voluptuousness which they suggest.

Mélite dare not praise anything; she even began to fear her feelings. She said only a few words, and Trémicour might have complained of it; but he understood, and he had good eyes; he would even have thanked her for his silence if he had not perceived that marks of gratitude are a mockery as long as a woman can disavow the ideas which we thank her. She entered the next room, and found another unexpected. This room is a boudoir, a place that it is unnecessary to name to the one who enters there, for the mind and the heart divine the situation at the same time. All the walls are covered with mirrors, with their borders masked by artificial tree trunks and carved foliage arranged with admirable skill. These trees are disposed in such a way that they appear to form an ordered arrangement; they are strewn with flowers and laden with candelabra whose wax candles provide a soft light in the mirrors, by the care we took in the end of the room, to spread light fabrics more or less over these transparent bodies, magic that accords so well with the optical effect that one can believe that you are in a natural grove illuminated with the aassisatnce of art. The niche in which the Ottoman is placed, a style of bed sitting on a rosewood parquet floor, is enriched with gold fringes mixed with green, and furnished with cushions of different textures. The entire perimeter and ceiling of this niche are also covered with mirors; Finally, carpentry and sculpture are painted in a colour matching the different objects they represent, and this colour has been applied by Dandrillon [6] so that it radiates violet, jasmine and rose. All this decoration is placed on a partition wall that is not very thick, and around which there is a fairly spacious corridor in which the Marquis had placed musicians.

Melita was in an ecstasy of delight. For more than a quarter of an hour when passing this boudoir, her tongue was muted, but her heart is not silent: He murmured secretly against men that engage all the talents to express a feeling of which they are so little capable. She made the wisest reflections on this; but they were, so to speak, secrets that the mind deposited in the depths of the heart, and who were soon to lose themselves there. Trémicour would seek them there with his piercing gaze, and the dstroy them by his breaths. He was no longer the man to whom she believed she could reproach for this monstrous contrast; she had changed it, and she had done more than Love. He did not speak, but his eyes were oaths. Mélite doubted his sincerity, but she saw that he could at least pretend well, and she was sensible that this dangerous art exhibits everything in a charming location. To distract herself from this idea, she moved away from him a little, and approached one of the mirrors, pretending to put a pin in her coiffure. Trémicour stood before the mirror vis-à-vis, and by this artifice, being able to regard her fondly without her being obliged to look away, he found that it was a snare that she had made around herself. She also had this thought, and wishing to destroy the cause, ontemplating her power, she thought she succeeded in making jokes at Trémicour.

“Well ! said she, will you stop staring at me? In the end, it irritates me. “

He flew toward her.

“So you have much hatred for me? He replied. Ah! Marquise, a little less injustice for a man who does not need to displease you to be convinced of his misfortune …

– See how modest he is! she cried.

– Yes, modest and unhappy, he continued; What I feel tells me to fear, what I fear tells me to fear yet. I adore you and am no more reassured. “

Mélite joked again; but with what evil skill she disguised the motive that wore it! Trémicour had taken her hand, and she did not think to remove it. He thought he could squeeze a little; she complained and asked if he would maim her.

“Ah! Madame ! he said, feigning despair, I beg of you a thousand pardons; I did not believe one could be so easily crippled. “

The air he had just taken disarmed her; he saw that the moment was decisive: he gave a signal, and at that instant the musicians placed in the corridor made a charming concert. This concert disconcerted her; she listened only for a moment, and, wanting to get away from a place that had become become difficult, she walked and entered a new room more delicious than anything she had seen before. Trémicour could have taken advantage of her ecstasy and close the door without her perceiving it to force her to listen; but he wished to owe the progress of victory to the progress of pleasure.

This new room is a bathroom suite. Marble, porcelain, muslins, nothing was spared; the panelling is heavy with arabesques executed by Perot [7] on the designs of Gilot [8], and contained in compartments distributed with great taste. Maritime plants mounted in bronze by Cafieri [9], pagodas, crystals and shells, interspersed with intelligence, decorate this room, in which are placed two niches, one of which is occupied by a bathtub, the other by a muslin embroidered Indian bed, adorned with chains of tassels. Beside it is a dressing room with panelling painted by Huet [10], depicting fruit, flowers and foreign birds, interwoven with garlands and medallions in which Boucher [11] painted medallions of small galant subjects as well above the doors. One has not forgotten a silver toilette by Germain [12]; Natural flowers fill the big blue porcelain bowls embellished with gold. Furniture lined with fabrics of the same colour fabric, the wood has Aventurine quartz design by Martin [13], to make this apartment worthy of enchanting the fairies. The upper part of the room has an elegantly profiled cornice, topped by a golden bell-shaped campane sculpture that serves as border with the underside containing a mosaic of gold interspersed with flowers painted by Bachelier. [14]

Mélite was overwhelmed by so many wonders; she felt as it were suffocated, and was obliged to sit down.

“I cannot stand any more, she said; this is too beautiful. There is nothing comparable on earth … “

The sound of her voice revealed a secret disorder. Trémicour felt that she was deeply moved; but as an adroit man, he had resolved not to appear to speak seriously. He contented himselfwith playing with a heart that could still renege.

“You do not believe it, he said, and this is how we feel that one must not swear by anything. I knew very well that alll this would charm you, but women still want to doubt.

– Oh ! I doubt not, ‘she said; I confess that this is divine and enchants me. “

Jean-Francois de Bastide, 1724-1798. La Petite Maison, 1758, revised 1763

Publisher: 1758 in the second volume of Le nouveau spectateur, Amsterdam and Paris, pp. 2: 361-412;

An allegory of the sensuous fascination of art to overcome the heart. A libertine, the Marquis de Trémicour, determinedly sets out to seduce an art student, Mélite, in his Petite Maison – a maison de plaisance, or house of pleasure in the suburbs of Paris designed for assignations. In a miniature Musée des Arts Décoratifs the rooms provide pictorial foreplay as Mélite admires the erotic paintings and etchings, with the artists identified for the reader in footnotes in the text. She loses her wager that she will not give in to him and is seduced in a reverie of aesthetic ecstasy as she is she overcome with sensation on the final page.

Compare to: Robert Bage 1730-1801 Hermsprong: or, Man As He Is Not, 1796 https://artinfiction.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/robert-bage-1730-1801-hermsprong-or-man-as-he-is-not-1796/

Notes on the artists.

3. Pineau. A sculptor famous for the ornaments, and the greater part of the sculptures of the apartments of our hotels are the work.

4. Dandrillon. Painter who found the secret of painting the wainscot without odour, and apply the gold on the sculpture without white primer.

5. Pierre. One of our famous painters, who by the force of his colour deserved a distinguished rank in the French school.

6. Dandrillon. It is still to this artist that we owe the discovery not only of having destroyed the bad odour of the impression which was previously given to the panelling, but of having found the secret of mixing in its ingredients An odour that is considered appropriate, an odour that persists for several years in succession, as many have already experienced.

7. Perot. Artist skilled in the genre of which we speak, and who painted at Choisi the prettiest things in this taste.

8. Gilot. The greatest draftsman of his time for arabesques, flowers, fruits, and animals, and who surpassed in this genre Perin, Audran, & c.

9. Cafieri. Founder and chiseler esteemed for the bronzes of which all the apartments of our beautiful houses of Paris and the surroundings are adorned.

10. Huet. Other famous painter of arabesques, and especially for animals.

11. Boucher. The painter of the Graces and the most ingenious artist of our century.

12. Germain. Famous goldsmith and son of the greatest artist that Europe possessed in this genre.

13. Martin. Famous varnisher known to everyone.

14. Bachelier. One of the most excellent painters of the present day, of whom he has lately left to become the rival of Desportes and Oudry, and perhaps surpass them.


	

Xavier de Maistre – Voyage autour de ma chambre, 1794 Voyage Around My Room

x de maistre madame elisabeth vigee lebrun

Chapter 7

Doesn’t that seem clear enough to you? Here’s another example:

One day last summer, I was making my way on foot to court. I had spent the whole morning painting, and my soul, enjoying its meditations on painting, left it to the beast to transport me to the Kings’s Palace.

“What a sublime art is painting!” my soul was thinking. “Happy is the man who has been touched by the spectacle of nature, who is not obliged to paint pictures for a living, and who does not paint merely as a pastime, but is struck by the majesty of a beautiful physiognomy and the admirable play of the light that suffuses the human face with a thousand subtle hues! He attempts to approach in his works the sublime effects of nature. Happy too is the painter whom the love of landscape leads out on solitary excursions, who is able to express on canvas the feeling of melancholy inspired in him by a gloomy wood or a deserted countryside! His productions imitate and reproduce nature; he creates new dark seas and dark caves on which the sun has never shone: at his order, green copses emerge from nothingness, and the blue of the sky is reflected in his pictures; he knows the art of fanning the breezes and making the tempests roar. At other times, he offers to the eye of the bewitched spectator the delightful landscapes of ancient Sicily: you can see panic-stricken nymphs taking flight through the reeds from some satyr in hot pursuit; temples of majestic build raise their proud heads above the sacred forest that encloses them: the imagination loses itself along the silent roads of this ideal country; the blue horizons merge gently into the sky, and the whole landscape, mirrored in the waters of a tranquil river, forms a spectacle that no lagoon can describe.”

As my soul was reflecting thus, the other kept right on going – God knows where! Instead of making its way to court, as it had been ordered to, it drifted away so far leftwards that, by the time my soul had caught up with it, it was already at the door of Mme de Hautcastel, half a mile away from the royal palace.

I will leave it to the reader to imagine what would have happened if the other had entered all by itself the home of such a beautiful lady.

——-

Chapter 10

Don’t get the idea that, instead of keeping my word and giving a description of my journey around my room, I am merely beating about the bush and evading the issue; you’d be quite wrong. No, my journey is really and truly continuing; and while my soul, withdrawing into itself, was in the last chapter exploring the tangled and twisted paths of metaphysics, I was in my armchair, in which I had leant back so that its two front legs were raised two inches above the ground; and by leaning forward, I had imperceptibly come right up to the wall – this is the way I travel when I’m not in any hurry. Here my hand had mechanically taken down the portrait of Mme de Hautcastel, and the other was diverting itself by breathing off the dust with which the portrait was covered. This occupation gave it a tranquil pleasure, and this pleasure communicated itself to my soul, even though the latter was lost in the best plains of the sky. It is worth noting observing in this respect that, when the spirit travels thus through space, it is still attached to the senses by some secret link; as a result, without being distracted from its occupations, it can participate in the joys and pleasures of the other, but if this pleasure increases to a certain degree, or if it is struck by some unexpected sight, the soul immediately reassumes her place as quick as a flash of lightening.

This is just what happened to me as I was cleaning the portrait.

As the cloth wiped the dust away and revealed curls of blond hair, and the garland of roses that crown them, my soul, although far away in the sun to which she had transported herself, felt a slight quiver in her heart, and emphatically shared the pleasure of my heart. This pleasure became less indistinct and more intense when the cloth, in one single sweep, laid bare the gleaning forehead of that enchanting physiognomy; my soul was on the point of leaving the heavens to come and enjoy the spectacle. But if she had been at the Champs- Élysées, or attending a concert of cherubs, she wouldn’t have stayed there for even half a second, when her companion, taking an increasing interest in her work, decided to seize a wet sponge that was handed to her and immediately proceeded to draw it over the eyebrows and the eyes – over the nose – over the cheeks – over the mouth – ah, God! How my heart beats! – over the chin, over the breast: it took no more than a minute; the whole face seemed to be reborn and to emerge from nothingness. My soul came sweeping down from heaven like a falling star; she found the other in a state of enraptured ecstasy, and succeeded in increasing its bliss by sharing it. This strange and unforeseen situation made time and space disappear for me. I existed for a moment in the past, and I grew again, against the order of nature. Yes, here she is, that adored woman, it really is her, I can see her smiling; she’s going to speak, she’s going to tell me she loves me. What a gaze! Come, let me press you to my heart, soul of my life, my second existence! Come and share my exaltation and my happiness! – This moment was brief, but it was ravishing: frigid Reason soon regained control, and in the space of the twinkling of an eye, I grew a whole year older: my heart became cold and frozen, and I found myself on the same level as that host of indifferent people who weigh down the globe.

Xavier de Maistre, 1763-1852            Voyage autour de ma chambre, 1794 Voyage Around My Room. Translation by Andrew Brown. Published by Hesperus Press Ltd, 2004.

The French writer and critic Charles Saint-Beuve, 1805-1869, admired de Maistre’s technique of storytelling by digression, or “manière de confession d’ailleurs”. In the first chapter de Maistre explains the subject of his story “I have undertaken and completed a forty-two day journey around my room. The interesting observations I have made, and the continual pleasure I experienced en route, filled me with the desire to publish it;…” His journey starts at the armchair, observes the pictures on the wall, walks to his desk and concludes by the fire. That is the physical plot of the novella, but the narrative concerns a love affair with a Madame de Hautcastel. The story resulted from an incident in Turin where he was imprisoned for forty-two days in the citadel in Turin following a duel with a Piedmontese officer. De Maistre admired Lawrence Sterne and the absurdity of the inversion of space and time in the Voyage autour de ma chambre is a parody of the traditional travelogue. De Maistre was an army officer and an aristocrat, and also a painter of miniatures and landscapes with a sophisticated understanding of artistic ideas. Inspired by the ideas of Rousseau, his separation of his physical self, the other, and his emotional self, the soul, illustrates how pictures were perceived as sensitive mirrors of emotional states.

Image: Madame Élisabeth, (Élisabeth of France) (Elisabeth-Philippe-Marie-Hélène) 1764-1794, sister of Louis XVI, was guillotined during the French Revolution. Engraving after a painting of Madame Élisabeth, 1782 by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1755–1842, Musée National du Château de Versailles

Tiphaigne de la Roche – Giphantie,1760

Roche - for giphantie

Chapter 18. La Tempeste.

The esprits élémentaire, continued my guide, are not dressed as skilled painters, but as clever physicists. You must judge the manner in which they operate. You know that rays of light, reflected from different bodies, form pictures, and paint the image reflected on all polished surfaces, for example, on the retina of the eye, on water, and on glass.

The esprits élémentaire  have sought to fix these fleeting images; they have made a subtle material, very viscous, and very quick to dry and harden, by means of which a picture is formed in the twinkling of an eye. They coat a piece of canvas with this material, and place it in front of the object to capture. The first effect of this cloth is similar to that of a mirror, but by means of its viscous nature the prepared canvas, as is not the case with the mirror, retains a facsimile of the image. The mirror represents images faithfully, but retains none; our canvas reflects them no less faithfully, but retains them all. This impression of the image is instantaneous. The canvas is then removed and deposited in a dark place. An hour later the impression is dry, and you have a picture the more precious in that no art can imitate its truthfulness.

We take in the most pure source, in the body of the light, the colours that painters take from different materials, that the passage of time never fails to alter. The accuracy of the drawing, the truth of the expression, the touches more or less strong, the gradation of shades, the rules of perspective; we abandon all this to nature, which with undeniable certainty, traces on our canvases those images that impose on the eyes, and cast doubt on our sense of reality, and that they are not a species of phantoms who take control of our sight, hearing, touch, and all the senses at once.

The esprit élémentaire  then described some physical details; firstly, on the nature of the resinous surface which intercepts and captures the rays; secondly, the difficulties to prepare and use; thirdly, on the play of light and the dry surface; three problems that I pass on to physicists in our time, that I refer to their wisdom.

However, I could not look away from the picture above. A sensitive viewer, who, from the shore, contemplating a sea that a storm turns upside down, could not feel impressions more vivid: than these images equal to the object in reality.

Tiphaigne de la Roche,1722-1774.    Giphantie, 1760. Published by Durand, Paris

Giphantia, or A View of What Has Passed, What is Now Passing, and, During the Present Century, What Will Pass, in the World. Published 1760-1761 by Robert Horsfield, London

Giphantie is an early ‘science-fiction’ novel that explores the secret land of Giphantie in the heart of Africa, and a civilisation of isolated superior beings ‘ elemental spirits’. They communicate through a medium that resembles television, and describe a process of making images that predicts the first héliographie photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 and the photo-chemical experiments and discovery of modern-day photography by Louis-Jacques Daguerre in 1839.

And the original French text…

Tiphaigne de la Roche,1722-1774.    Giphantie, 1760. Published by Durand, Paris

Chapitre 18. La Tempeste

Les esprits élémentaires, poursuivit le préfet, ne sont pas si habiles peintres qu’adroits physiciens ; tu vas en juger par leur manière d’opérer. Tu sais que les rayons de lumière, réfléchis des différents corps, font tableau, et peignent ces corps sur toutes leurs surfaces polies, sur la rétine de l’œil, par exemple, sur l’eau, sur les glaces. Les esprits élémentaires ont cherché à fixer ces images passagères ; ils ont composé une matière très subtile, très visqueuse et très prompte à se dessécher et à se durcir, au moyen de laquelle un tableau est fait en un clin d’œil. Ils enduisent de cette matière une pièce de la toile, et la présentent aux objets qu’ils veulent peindre. Le premier effet de la toile, est celui du miroir ; on y voit tous les corps voisins et éloignés, dont la lumière peut apporter l’image. Mais, ce qu’une glace ne saurait faire, la toile, au moyen de son enduit visqueux, retient les simulacres. Le miroir vous rend fidèlement les objets, mais n’en garde aucun ; nos toiles ne les rendent pas moins fidèlement, et les gardent tous. Cette impression des images est l’affaire du premier instant où la toile les reçoit : on l’ôte sur le champ, on la place dans un endroit obscur ; une heure après, l’enduit est desséché, et vous avez un tableau d’autant plus précieux, qu’aucun art ne peut en imiter la vérité, et que le temps ne peut en aucune manière l’endommager. Nous prenons dans la source la plus pure, dans le corps de la lumière, les couleurs que les peintres tirent de différents matériaux, que le laps des temps ne manque jamais d’altérer. La précision du dessin, la vérité de l’expression, les touches plus ou moins fortes, la gradation des nuances, les règles de la perspectives ; nous abandonnons tout cela à la nature, qui, avec cette marche sûre qui jamais ne se démentit, trace sur nos toiles des images qui en imposent aux yeux, et font douter à la raison si ce qu’on appelle réalités ne sont pas d’autres espèces de fantômes qui en imposent aux yeux, à l’ouïe, au toucher, à tous les sens à la fois.

L’esprit élémentaire entra ensuite dans quelques détails physiques ; premièrement, sur la nature du corps gluant, qui intercepte et garde les rayons ; secondement, sur les difficultés de le préparer et de l’employer ; troisièmement, sur le jeu de la lumière et de ce corps desséché : trois problèmes que je propose aux physiciens de nos jours, et que j’abandonne à leur sagacité.

Cependant, je ne pouvais détourner les yeux de dessus le tableau. Un spectateur sensible, qui, du rivage, contemple une mer que l’orage bouleverse, ne sent point des impressions plus vives : de telles images valent les choses.

J W von Goethe – The Sorrows of Young Werther,1774

goethe

July 24,1771

Since you so concerned that I should not neglect my drawing, I would prefer to say nothing at all about the question than to admit how little I have done of late.

I have never felt happier, and my feelings for Nature, down to tiny pebbles and blades of grass, have never been so full and acute, and yet – I do not know how to express myself; my imaginative powers are so weak, and everything slides and shifts before my soul, so that I cannot grasp the outlines; but I fancy I might make a go of it if I had some clay or wax to model. If things are like this much longer I really shall get some clay and model it, even if all I produce is dumplings!

I have started on a portrait of Lotte three times, and three times I have failed disgracefully; which depresses me all the more since I could take a very good likeness not so long ago. So then I cut a silhouette profile of her, and that will have to do.

goethe 1 J W von Goethe. 1749-1832. Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, 1774  The Sorrows of Young Werther

© Translation by Michael Hulse,1989. Penguin Classics, 1989

Images:

Silhouette of Charlotte Sophie Henriette Buff, 1753-1828, the model for Lotte in The Sorrows of Young Werther. © Bildatlas zur Geschichte der Deutschen Nationalliteratur by Gustav Koennecke.

Georg Melchior Kraus, 1737-1806. Goethe mit der silhouette. ©Goethe Haus, Frankfurt

Frances Burney – Evalina, 1778

f hayman the triumph of britanniaLETTER XLVI. EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS. Holborn, June 17th.

Observing that Sir Clement seemed disposed to renew his enquiries, I turned towards one of the paintings, and, pretending to be very much occupied in looking at it, asked M. Du Bois some questions concerning the figures.

“O! Mon Dieu! ” cried Madame Duval, “don’t ask him; your best way is to ask Mr. Smith, for he’s been here the oftenest. Come, Mr. Smith, I dare say you can tell us all about them.”

“Why, yes, Ma’am, yes,” said Mr. Smith: who, brightening up at this application, advanced towards us with an air of assumed importance, which, however, sat very uneasily upon him, and begged to know what he should explain first: “For I have attended,” said he, “to all these paintings, and know every thing in them perfectly well; for I am rather fond of pictures, Ma’am; and, really, I must say, I think, a pretty pictures is a – a very – is really a very – is something very pretty – ”

“So do I too,” said Madame Duval; “but pray now, Sir, tell us who that is meant for,” pointing to a figure of Neptune.

“That! – why, that, Ma’am, is, – Lord bless me, I can’t think how I come to be so stupid, but really I have forgot his name; – and yet, I know it as well as my own too: – however, he’s a General, Ma’am, they are all Generals.”

I saw Sir Clement bite his lips; and, indeed, so did I mine.

“Well,” said Madame Duval, “it’s the oddest dress for a general ever I see!”

“He seems so capital a figure,” said Sir Clement, to Mr. Smith, “that I imagine he must be Generalissimo of the whole army.”

“Yes, Sir, yes,” answered Mr. Smith, respectfully bowing, and highly delighted at being thus referred to, “you are perfectly right; – but I cannot for my life think of his name; – perhaps, Sir, you may remember it?”

“No, really,” replied Sir Clement, “my acquaintance among the generals is not so extensive.”

The ironical tone of voice in which Sir Clement spoke entirely disconcerted Mr. Smith; who again retiring to an humble distance, seemed sensibly mortified at the failure of his attempt to recover his consequence.

Frances Burney, 1752-1840. Evalina, 1778

Letter XLVI. Evalina to the Rev. Mr. Villars. Holborn, June 17th. (Vol II. Letter XV. Evalina in continuation. June 17th)

Note: The Picture Room at Vauxhall Gardens, which opened in 1661, was attached to the Rotunda. Also known as the ‘saloon’, it was 70 feet long by 34 feet wide. The paintings on the walls of the Picture Room were commissioned in 1760 from Francis Hayman, 1708-1776. They depicted famous British victories and the military heroes associated with them. The painting of The Triumph of Britannia, now lost, celebrated Sir Edward Hawke’s defeat of the French fleet in 1759 included  the central figure of Neptune appearing to favour the British cause. Hayman also made paintings for the fifty supper-boxes at Vauxhall. The images were contemporary and jingoistic as seen in the work by marine painter, Peter Monamy, 1681-1749, who depicted episodes from the current conflict with Spain, the so-called “War of Jenkins’ Ear.” Including The Taking of Porto Bello, and the Capture of the San Joseph. Hayman created a series of fifty-three paintings, fourteen of which have survived, painted by the staff and students, at the Saint Martin’s Lane Academy. Eighteen of the paintings were published as popular engravings, illustrating subjects from contemporary theatre, children’s games,  and adult pursuits.

Image: Edward Francis Burney, 1760-1848. Portrait of Frances Burney. c.1784-85. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Image: Francis Hayman (after). The Triumph of Britannia. Print by Simon François Ravenet. Published in London,1765. © The Trustees of the British Museum, Prints & Drawings Department

Robert Bage – Hermsprong: or, Man As He Is Not, 1796

At the extremity of the pleasure ground, bordering on the moor, Lord Grondale, soon after his accession to the estate, had built a sort of pleasure house, an octagon, on an artificial mount. It had obtained the name of the pavilion. In his earlier years, his lordship made of it a sort of temple of fame, and adorned it with the portraits of his own best hunters and racers, and of those who had obtained the greatest renown on the arduous plains of Ascot and Newmarket. This taste declining, these portraits had given place to paintings of another species, capital, no doubt, his lordship having been considered as a connoisseur.

This pavilion Lord Grondale made a kind of sanctum; it was open only to himself, a few of his more particular friends on their annual visit, and once a week perhaps, usually on Sunday evening, to the person or merit. So it happened to be on the eve of that sabbath, so mortifying to Lord Grondale. From thence it was they saw the movements of the parties, as described in our 8th chapter of this volume; which ‘tortured his lordship almost to madness,’ and subjected Mrs. Stone to his stern rebuke, for the mere endeavour to reason him into placidity.

It was several evenings after this, when Lord Grondale had begun to long for a few of Miss Fluart’s sugared sweets, and Miss Fluart to wish he would, that this young lady was strolling the pleasure grounds alone; Miss Campinet having determined that evening to write to Mrs. Garnet; a thing she had attempted every day since her father’s prohibition, but in which she had not yet succeeded to her mind. A few yards from the pavilion, turning a walk, Miss Fluart almost ran against Lord Grondale. The good peer said, with a tone of good nature, “Have I the pleasure to see Miss Fluart here, and alone?”
“Caroline is indolent,” Miss Fluart answered; “she chose the zephyrs of her own apartment, rather than the zephyrs of your lordship’s groves. Oh dear, (she continued) now I think of it, I have long had a desire to take a peep into your lordship’s pavilion, where you have never yet invited me.”
“I invite you now, then,” said Lord Grondale, hobbling up the steps, and unlocking the door.”
“I hear,” says she, ascending, “it is a little palace of paintings.”

The first object which struck her view, was herself, her beauteous self, many times multiplied. This was fascinating no doubt, but she got rid of it as soon as she could, and threw her eye on a lovely piece, representing Jachimo taking notes of the mole cinque spotted on the beauteous bosom of Imogen. The next was Atalanta, straining to recover the ground she had lost by the golden apples; her bosom bare, her zone unloosed, her garments streaming with the wind. From the four following pieces, the pavilion might, not improperly, have been denominated the Temple of Venus. The first gave the goddess rising from the sea. The second, asleep; a copy of Titian. The third, accompanied with Juno and Minerva, appealing to Paris. The fourth, in Vulcan’s net with Mars.

However capital these might be, they were such as ladies are not accustomed to admire in the presence of gentlemen. There was, however, a superb sofa; on which a lady might sit down with all possible propriety. Miss Fluart did sit down; but the prospect from thence rather increased than diminished a little matter of confusion, which she felt on the view of the company she seemed to have got into.

She was rising to leave the pavilion, when his lordship, in the most gallant manner possible, claimed a fine, due he said, by the custom of the manor, from every lady who honoured that sofa by sitting upon it. His lordship meant simply a kiss, which I believe he would have taken respectfully enough, had Miss Fluart been passive; but, I know not why, the lady seemed to feel an alarm, for which probably she had no reason; and was intent only upon running away, whilst his lordship was intent only upon seizing his forfeit. A fine muslin apron was ill-treated upon this occasion; a handkerchief was ruffled, and some beautiful hair had strayed from its confinement, and wantoned upon its owner’s polished neck. She got away, however, from this palace of painting, and its dangerous sofa.

“Upon my word, my dear Miss Fluart,” said his lordship, getting down after her as fast as he was able, “you are quite a prude today. I thought you superior to the nonsense of your sex, the making such a rout about a kiss.”
“A kiss! Lord bless me,” said Miss Fluart, “I thought from the company your lordship had brought me into, and the mode of your attack, you had wanted to undress me.”
Lord Grondale burst into an immoderate laugh, and declared it was the drollest idea in the world. Miss Fluart laughed too, and stopped to hear his lordship’s exculpation; which she accepted without much difficulty, having a favour to ask, that could scarce be granted, except in his lordship’s very best humour.

Whether a kiss refused is more a promoter of love, than a kiss granted, or whether there is any thing inflammatory in pulling a young lady’s cloaths to pieces, it is certain Lord Grondale now found himself very seriously in love.

Robert Bage, 1730 – 1801
Hermsprong: or, Man As He Is Not, 1796

Image:  William Hogarth, Before and After, c.1730-1731, oil on canvas.  ©The Getty Center, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Horace Walpole – The Castle of Otranto, 1764

 

Manfred rose to pursue her, when the moon, which was now up, and gleamed in at the opposite casement, presented to his sight the plumes of the

fatal helmet, which rose to the height of the windows, waving backwards and forwards in a tempestuous manner, and accompanied with a hollow and rustling sound. Isabella, who gathered courage from her situation, and who dreaded

nothing so much as Manfred’s pursuit of his declaration, cried

“Look, my Lord ! see, Heaven itself declares against your impious intentions ! ”

“Heaven nor Hell shall impede my designs,” said Manfred, advancing again to seize the Princess.

At that instant the portrait of his grandfather, which hung over the bench where they had been sitting, uttered a deep sigh, and heaved its breast.

Isabella, whose back was turned to the picture, saw not the motion, nor knew whence the sound came, but started, and said

“Hark, my Lord ! What sound was that” and at the same time made towards the door.

Manfred, distracted between the flight of Isabella, who had now reached the stairs, and yet unable to keep his eyes from the picture, which began to move, had, however, advanced some steps after her, still looking backwards on the portrait, when he saw it quit its panel, and descend on the floor with a grave and melancholy air.

“Do I dream ? ” cried Manfred, returning ; “or are the devils themselves in league against me? Speak, infernal spectre ! Or, if thou art my grandsire, why dost thou too conspire against thy wretched descendant, who too dearly pays for ‘

Ere he could finish the sentence, the vision sighed again, and made a sign to Manfred to follow him.

” Lead on ! ” cried Manfred ; ” I will follow thee to the gulf of perdition.”

The spectre marched sedately, but dejected, to the end of the gallery, and turned into a chamber on the right hand. Manfred accompanied him at a little distance, full of anxiety and horror, but resolved. As he would have entered the chamber, the door was clapped to with violence by an invisible hand. The Prince, collecting courage from this delay, would have forcibly burst open the door with his foot, but found that it resisted his utmost efforts.

” Since Hell will not satisfy my curiosity,” said Manfred, ” I will use the human means in my power for preserving my race ; Isabella shall not escape me.”

Horace Walpole, 1717-1797.   The Castle of Otranto, 1764.  (Chapter 30)

Image: Marcus Geeraerts, the younger, 1561-1635. Portrait of Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland, (c.1576-1633), c.1603. Strawberry Hill