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Ils auront bien de la peine.

(They will have a hard job)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Additional handwriting by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu (b.c 1784, d.1869)
Date:
c 1740-c 1775 {nd}
1822-1869 {One inscription by Tardieu}
Place of Production:
Paris, France
Medium:
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
675.239
One of a set, see others

Commentary

Brief Description:

Beams of light radiate from an open score bearing the name ‘Lully’, positioned on top of a truncated column to the right of the centre of the page. Eleven grey mice or rats have gathered about the column: one mouse, standing on the back of another, attempts to climb its left side. A third mouse, standing on the right of the column, turns to look at a fourth mouse which holds a flaming taper. Three mice situated to the left of the column tug on a cord that has been tied around its top, while another hangs from the cord. Three more mice approach the column from the left. One carries a large green book on its back while the other two examine its cover, which is inscribed with the name, "Vacarmini / Rameau".

Curatorial Commentary

This drawing of mice attempting to dislodge a score by Lully from a pedestal so as to replace it with one by Jean-Philippe Rameau, shows where Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s sympathies lay in the disputes over musical style that pitched Rameau against Jean-Baptiste Lully, the high practitioner of traditional classical music that had been set in place under Louis XIV.

The dispute had been sparked by the premiere in 1733 of Rameau's tragic opera “Hippolyte et Aricie”, which, with its complex harmonies and musical innovations (condemned as 'modern'), was taken as a threat to the Lullian tradition, long established in France as the dominant musical taste. The dispute galvanised the public, whose interest in the affair was further stoked by the publication of a large number of satirical songs, pamphlets and prints (a few of which are referred to in the “Livre de Caricatures” (e.g. 675.240)).

The inscription accompanying the drawing suggests Charles-Germain's belief that the “Lullistes” would triumph over the “Ramistes”, whereas in fact, although victory was not clear-cut, it was Rameau who was widely hailed as the champion. The repeated restaging of his productions between in the 1730s and 1740s resulted in the public becoming increasingly accustomed to his innovative style, while his employment on a number of operas for performance at Versailles further consolidated his preeminence in the Parisian musical world.

The book that the mice in the foreground hold up is labelled ‘Vacarmini’. This was the name of a celebrated Italian virtuouso violinist who toured Paris in 1733 – but it also linked to the word “vacarme”, which signified a racket or din. The suggestion thus is that Rameau, with his compositional innovations, was glitzy and loud, but ultimately insubstantial and unmelodic (Johnson, 2012).Vacarmini is also cited in the image at 675.240.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Inscriptions:
LULLY
Inscription
Inscribed probably by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, on open score, in ink

Vacarmini / RAMEAU
Inscription
Inscribed, probably by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, on open score, in ink

Ils auront bien de la peine.
Inscription
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

Triomphe de Lully sur les partisans de Rameau
Inscription
Inscribed by Pierre-Antoine Tardieu, towards bottom, in ink

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

239
Pagination
Top right in ink
Translation of inscription
LULLY
Vacarmini [or racket], Rameau
They will have a hard job.
Triumph of Lully over the partisans of Rameau
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:

Valerie Mainz; Gloire, subversively; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 151-177; pp. 155n, 156

Related literature

Paul-Marie Masson, Lullistes et Ramistes, 1733-1752, L'Année Musicale, 1, 1911, 187-211
Jeffrey Pulver, La Guerre des Bouffons, The Musical Times, lvii, January 1916, 18-19
Jeffrey Pulver, La Guerre des Bouffons, The Musical Times, lvii, February 1916, 87-89
Denise Launay; La Querelle des Bouffons: texte des pamphlets; Geneva; Minkoff; 1973
Graham Sadler, Patrons and Pasquinades: Rameau in the 1730s, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, cxiii, 1988, 314-37
James H. Johnson; Listening in Paris: A Cultural History; Los Angeles; University of California Press; 1995
James H. Johnson; Musical culture; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 215-232

Indexed terms