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Chemin de Romme pour l'Acteur et de bicetre pour l'auteur

(Road to Rome for the actor and Bicetre for the author. 1755)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Additional handwriting by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu (b.c 1784, d.1869)
Date:
1755
1822-1869 {Inscription by Tardieu}
The artist's inscription states 1755
Place of Production:
Paris, France
Medium:
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
675.211
One of a set, see others

Commentary

Brief Description:

A gnarled tree trunk stands at the centre of the page. It is surmounted by a mitre and wears an Order of the Holy Spirit ("Ordre du Saint-Esprit"). An archiepiscopal cross emerges from behind it. The tree trunk leans a little to the right of the page towards a winged wide-brimmed cardinal's hat, or galero, which hovers in mid-air.

Three green serpents are wrapped around the trunk. Each holds a piece of paper in its mouth on which the words, (from top to bottom), "Egzil / exil", "Unigenitus", and "Billets de Confession" can be read. At the bottom-left hand side of the page is a sheet of paper with "EDITS / DU ROI", written on it, and two books, one on top of the other. "Loix" and "Code Louis" is written on their spines. Two green mortars - conical hats with yellow bands like those worn by magistrates in the Parlement – rest on top of the books. A cross leans against them.

Curatorial Commentary

The commentary by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu (husband of the artist’s granddaughter, who inherited the “Livre de Caricatures” in 1822) on Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s drawing is probably accurate, although there are a number of obscure features. The be-mitred log (“bûche” means both ‘log’ and ‘fool’) probably denotes Christophe de Beaumont, archbishop of Paris, who led the campaign to deny the last rites to any Catholic who refused to sign a confession certificate (“billet de confession”) stating their acceptance of the papal Unigenitus bull of 1713 which had condemned Jansenist doctrine.

One of the snakes entwined about a beleagured de Beaumont, who is bedecked with an Order of the Holy Spirit (“l’Ordre du Saint-Esprit”), bears an exile edict from the king. This marks the drawing as referring to a particular moment in the Jansenist struggles which dominated French politics in the middle decades of the eighteenth century. Although the king had exiled the Parlement of Paris in 1754 for its attacks on de Beaumont’s use of confession certificates, his recall of the magistrates obliged all parties to the dispute to observe silence on the issue. The failure of certain bishops to remain silent led to the exile of de Beaumont in 1755.

The image also shows a cardinal’s hat winging its way towards him. This never arrived for him, but the marquis d’Argenson records that the offer was seriously considered by the crown during the crisis of 1755-7, as a means of detaching de Beaumont from his diocese and expediting him to Rome. (D’Argenson, ix, p. 311).

The logic of the caption appears to be that even though the acts of de Beaumont may lead to papal recognition (‘Rome’) the author of his episcopal edicts is bound for prison (‘Bicêtre’, the huge prison and reformatory to the south of Paris). In the “Livre de Caricatures”, Charles-Germain displays an even-handed hostility towards religious enthusiasm and intolerance in all its form, pro-Jesuit and pro-Jansenist.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Inscriptions:
EGZIL
Inscription
Inscribed on sheet of paper in the mouth of a snake, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

exil
Inscription
Inscribed on sheet of paper in snake's mouth, probably by Pierre Antoine Tardieu, in ink

unigenitus
Inscription
Inscribed on sheet of paper in mouth of snake, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

Billets de / Confession
Inscription
Inscribed on sheet of paper in snake's mouth, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

Code Louis
Inscription
Inscribed on book spine, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

LOIX
Inscription
Inscribed on book spine, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

EDITS / DU ROY
Inscription
Inscribed on sheet of paper beneath book, by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, in ink

Chemin de Romme pour l'Acteur / et de bicetre pour l'auteur . 1755.
Inscription
Inscribed in an unknown hand, below image, in ink

Persécution contre les Jansénistes de la part de Christophe / de Beaumont, Archevêque de Paris. Exigeance de Billets de / confession attestant adhesion des mourans à la Bulle Unigénitus.
Inscription
Inscribed by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu bottom, in ink

2
Pagination
Top right, in ink; last two digits truncated by page's edge

211
Pagination
Top right corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
Exile
Exile
Unigenitus
Confession certificates
Code Louis
Edicts of the king
Road to Rome for the actor and Bicetre for the author. 1755
Persecution of the Jansenists by Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris. Demand for confession certificates attesting to the dying’s adhesion to the Unigenitus Bull.
Language:
French

History

Part of:
Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises. 675.1-389
Collection:
Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957

Bibliography

Bibliography:

Julian Swann; Politics and religion; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 117-150; p. 131, fig. 5.8

Related literature

Émile Regnault; Christophe de Beaumont, archevêque de Paris; Paris; Lecoffre; 1882
Julian Swann; Politics and the Parlement of Paris under Louis XV, 1754-1775; Cambridge; Cambridge University Press; 1995. pp. 87-121

Indexed terms