Exhibitions of Manuscript Verse in the Salon du Louvre
In the eighteenth century, spectators placed hand-written poems on or beside artworks in the Paris Salon du Louvre. Overlooked in the history of exhibition practice, this unofficial spectatorial response to art physically intruded on a space where only members of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture were allowed to exhibit their work. The jurisdiction of the Académie over every aspect of the Salon, including the policing of its space by the Bourbon monarch's Swiss guards, is a precedent for the top-down model of curatorial control, channeling of spectatorial movement, and regulation of spectatorial behavior that characterizes modern exhibition practice. Yet, manuscript verse reveals how art exhibitions in the ancien régime were in certain respects more participatory, and, from a modern perspective, more strange than their modern inheritors.
This essay situates manuscript verse within the complex media ecosystem of the Salon. Like the information society that Robert Darnton describes in his famous article on eighteenth-century Parisian news media, in which news circulated simultaneously in oral, manuscript, and print forms, the Salon encompassed different artistic and communications media associated with overlapping social practices and cultural spheres.1 Combinations of media, including manuscript, served different social groups there in distinct and sometimes contradictory ways. To understand the operation of media in the Salon is to grasp their interrelations. [End Page 57]
This essay argues that interactions between artistic and communications media corresponded to social and cultural tensions in the Salon. First, this essay contextualizes manuscript verse with respect to the range of poetry about art in the Salon, including encomiastic verse and print verse. Second, this essay traces the genealogy of manuscript verse in period poetic genres and practices, notably verse for portraits and impromptu verse. Third, this essay locates manuscript verse at the intersection of competing interests in the Salon, where absolutist, aristocratic, and popular rhetorics entwined; manuscript verse represented a courtly and aristocratic response to printed art criticism.
The Writing on the Wall: Verse in the Salon
The phenomenon of manuscript verse in the Salon is unexplored in modern scholarship perhaps because the history of art criticism has been written as a history of prose. It is easy to forget that art criticism was never far from poetry in this period. Manuscript verse resembled in form and purpose other kinds of poetry associated with the Salon. Like manuscript verse, these genres of poetry in response to art testify to the continuity of poetic and exhibition cultures in this period.
Manuscript verse displayed in the Salon only survives where art criticism has preserved traces of this no doubt common but largely unrecorded practice. For example, in his review of the Salon of 1747, Jean-Bernard Le Blanc documents one such manuscript poem for a portrait bust by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (fig. 1).2 Le Blanc notes that below the bust were written these lines:
By his virtues, by his deedsSovereigns, learn how to be worthyWarriors, instruct yourself, and Englishmen blush To have underestimated your master.3
The verse reflects the status of Bonnie Prince Charlie, pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, as a romantic hero following the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1745 and his subsequent flight to France where he was in exile.
Manuscript verse was always laudatory. For example, in the Salon of 1747, the pastel portrait of the Maréchal de Saxe by Maurice Quentin de La Tour inspired two manuscript poems glorifying the marshal general of France and hero of the War of Austrian Succession (fig. 2).4 Le Blanc reports that "this verse has been placed below the portrait:"
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Le Blanc further records "other verse that has been written under the portrait of this prince:"
These poems echo the nationalistic pride expressed in the manuscript verse in this same Salon honoring Prince Charles Edward Stuart, on whose father's behalf the Maréchal de Saxe had been chosen to command the abortive French Invasion of Britain in 1744.
Other manuscript verse in the Salon intersected with art critical discourse by lauding the artist. In the Salon of 1767, La Tour's portrait of the royal eye doctor Pierre Demours—of which Denis Diderot wrote, "hideous face, fine piece of painting"—prompted a manuscript poem (fig. 3).10 In this Salon, La Tour exhibited his portraits without having had them recorded in the livret, the numbered hand list of works exhibited that allowed the public to identify individual works by numbers hung beside them. The Mercure de France observes that the public was able to discern its author even without the assistance of the livret:
The public is more insightful than one thinks. … [La Tour's]talents spoke for him. The truth revealed his secret, and we dareto claim that one hundred people recognized him through theveil of his modesty. On the back of his portrait of M. Demours,eye doctor to the king, these lines were found:
Dibutade, long ago led by love,Traced a striking image of her lover.Today friendship, taking its turn to triumph,To depict the truthful image of a friend,Has guided the pastel of the la Tour.11
To the back of la Tour's portrait of Demours, displayed on a stand on one of the tables reserved for small pictures and sculptures, someone attached manuscript verse that identified the artist. This unofficial manuscript verse identifying La Tour filled a lacuna in the official printed documentation of the livret. It was a public performance of poetic wit and connoisseurship.
Manuscript verse replicated the functions of other kinds of poetry for art in the Salon. For example, encomiastic poems extended courtly discourse into the realm of printed art criticism. A typical example is the Epitre au Roy published on the occasion of the Concours, or state-sponsored competition for history painting, whose eleven paintings were exhibited as an extension of the Salon of 1747.12 The Epitre extolled the enlightened patronage of Louis XV together with the qualities of the exhibited paintings, for example as in the stanza on François Boucher's Rape of Europa (1747), which lauds its palette, composition, brushwork, and expression.13 In another case, an anonymous review of the Salon of 1741 included a laudatory poem on Charles-Antoine Coypel's painting of a scene from Jean Racine's Athalie (1691).14 [End Page 61]
If encomiastic poetry was typically published after the Salon had closed, another kind of verse was actually displayed in the Salon, physically incorporated into the artworks exhibited there. Versified prints exhibited in the Salon included poetry in what is called the print letter, that is, a textual component located in the margin beneath the image, which typically included [End Page 62] a title, artists' names, and often a dedication and coat of arms.15 Print verse, as Antony Griffiths shows, descended from Latin verse that Netherlandish humanists composed for prints.16 Print verse related to an established culture of versification in response to artworks that was already commonplace in the seventeenth century when the visit of Rubens to France inspired a flurry of poems.17 In eighteenth-century France, this humanist tradition intersected with the practice of versification in the literary salons and thus represented a cross-fertilization of visual and literary cultures.
Versified prints—very often portraits—were not abundant in the Salon, yet they appeared there frequently enough to suggest an association between print verse and certain subjects of portraiture, namely actors and actresses, composers, artists, and what were called savants, such as doctors and mathematicians. A typical example is a print by Bernard-François Lépicié after Joseph Aved exhibited in the Salon of 1740, depicting the actress Catherine-Marie-Jeanne Dupré Deseine (sometimes referred to by her married name Quinault-Dufresne) in the role of Dido (fig. 4).18 Its verse reads:
Art does not lend you its frivolous imposture,Dufrêne, your appealing qualities, your enchanting talents, Have never owed but to natureThe gift of pleasing the eye and moving the heart.19
The quatrain combines the compact ingenuity of the epigram and the bon mot while alluding to classical inscription—considered in the period to be the origin of the epigram—a reference supported by the illusionistic representation of the verse as if carved into the sculptural base supporting the portrait.20
The only two genres of poetry to be physically displayed in the Salon, print verse and manuscript verse resemble one another. Both tend to take the form of the quatrain, often but not always of classical twelve-syllable alexandrines. Both are laudatory and directed toward the subjects of portraiture and to artists themselves. Both qualify as what was called poésie fugitive, poetry that, whether manuscript or print, "by the smallness of its volume is easily lost."21
Pour mettre au bas de son Portrait: Poetry for Art
Verse for portraiture was a subgenre of poetry that cut across social levels. In 1766, the poet and dramatist Claude-Joseph Dorat published one such poem in the literary anthology the Almanach des muses, most issues of which included several poems intended to adorn artworks. "A Mlle Doligni, Pour mettre au bas de son Portrait," dedicated to the promising 20-year-old [End Page 63]
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actress, Louis-Adélaïde Berton-Maisonneuve, called Mademoiselle d'Oligny, in its subject, form, and laudatory quality resembled print verse and manuscript verse in the Salon.22 Some poems published in the Almanach des muses were even intended to adorn artworks shown in the Salon. For example, Joseph-Siffred Duplessis's portrait of the poet Antoine-Léonard Thomas, exhibited in the Salon of 1781, inspired a quatrain published in the Almanach des muses of 1782.23 The practice was not unique to the Salon. In 1779, Jean-Antoine Houdon exhibited a bust of Christoph Willibald Gluck in the Salon de la Correspondance, the exhibition space and literary/scientific circle of the writer Pahin de La Blancherie, at the base of which a spectator placed a poem in praise of its subject.24
In spite of its typically low status as poésie fugitive, reflected in its usual anonymity, poetry for portraits was sometimes associated with celebrated authors, suggesting the genre's penetration into multiple levels of poetic culture.25 Not all portraits were created equal: unlike print verse and in contrast to poésie fugitive more generally, inscriptions for major public monuments were sometimes produced competitively and reported in the press, as for example when Paul-Henri Marron, chaplain to the Dutch ambassador to Paris, composed a Latin poem for Houdon's statue of George Washington, published in the Journal général de France in 1787.26 Marron offered this as an alternative to the inscription of James Madison that the Virginia General Assembly selected in 1784. Later, in a letter to Madison, Thomas Jefferson noted that Houdon had criticized Madison's inscription for its length, and Jefferson recorded other proposed texts, including that of Marron and a quotation from Horace offered by Jean-François Marmontel.27
Though inscriptions for monuments such as the Washington of Houdon merited international public debate, the subgenre of poetry for portraiture encompassed humbler material that nevertheless engaged famous authors. Voltaire provided verse for Jean Daullé's print reproducing the portrait of the mathematician Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis, exhibited in the Salon of 1743.28 Its patron, Maupertuis's friend Jean-Marie-François du Parc, marquis de Locmaria, solicited this verse from Voltaire:
The poorly known globe that he was able to measure,Becomes a monument on which his glory is founded:His fate is to please, enlighten, and fix the image of the world.29
In a letter to Locmaria, Voltaire modestly dismissed his own verse as a "feeble quatrain."30 The problem, he said, was the French language itself: [End Page 65]
A Latin inscription displeases me, because I am a good Frenchman. I find it ridiculous that our jetons, our medals, and our Louis are in Latin. In Germany, in England, most mottos are in French; it is only we who do not dare to speak our language on the occasions when foreigners speak it. I know full well that every inscription should be made in French, but also that that is too difficult. The flow of our language is too constricted; our rhyme spins out into four lines what Latin could easily express in one.31
Voltaire links print verse, and the subgenre of verse for portraiture more generally, with traditions rooted in the classical inscription. He reveals that one of the poet's tasks was to provide text for artworks, be it verse for prints, mottos for medals, or inscriptions for monuments, so that what defines such poetry is not that it is fugitive—a genre light, often frivolous, ironic and satirical in tone—but applied.32
Subject as well as mood and medium organized the hierarchy of the various forms of poetry. For example, impromptu verse was fashioned in response to artworks shown in the Salon. Impromptu verse was a genre recognized in the period by that name as a type of poetry close in form to manuscript verse in the Salon: Louis de Jaucourt, in the Encyclopédie, defined the impromtu as short verse, related to the epigram or to the brief, ingenious, gallant poem called the madrigal, but made without preparation on a subject that presents itself.33 The Mémoires secrets documents one such impromtu composed—though not displayed as manuscript—in response to the Sainte Thérèse of Jean-Joseph Taillasson, exhibited in the Salon of 1785 (illustrated here by Gilles-Antoine Demarteau's print after it, fig. 5): "It is said that a wit addressed the following impromtu on this piece to the artist."34
Taillasson, remove from this placeYour too adorable Theresa!Whereas she gives herself to God,She makes us give ourselves to the devil.35
The poet's argument that Theresa is so beautiful that she prompts impure thoughts is both praise and critique, and it aligns with what Jaucourt described as a defining property of the impromtu: "an ingenious mockery."36 The impromtu, such as this one directed to Taillasson, could praise an artist, but with a satirical or critical edge.
Like the lesser genres of the epigram and madrigal with which it was associated, the impromtu was léger, light.37 It arrived as an unpremeditated flash of wit that illuminated a specific social context; it was performative, an expression of oral culture.38 Its instantaneity and ephemerality can be contrasted with the ponderous temporality of the inscription that is written [End Page 66]
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"on copper, on marble, on public buildings, on triumphal arches, etc., to preserve the memory of some important person or event" (Dictionnaire of the Académie).39 The medium of copper and marble was not that of poésie fugitive, a genre named for its ephemerality.
Word of Mouth: Dialectical Tensions of Communications Media in the Salon
In the Salon, poems on art proffered a laudatory or ceremonial discourse as an alternative to prose criticism, an opposition between encomiastic and critical texts that reflected a contradiction in purposes in the exhibition of the Académie. One function of the Salon was to celebrate the enlightened patronage of the king and the state. Another was to encourage competition between artists. Manuscript poems in the Salon highlighted the ceremonial as opposed to the competitive function, exemplified in the verse offered to Lemoyne's portrait of Louis XV in the Salon of 1747.40 "Someone inspired by a truth-loving Muse," Le Blanc reports, "has attached the following verse to the base of this bust:"
The model of kings, the love of his subjects,If he fills the earth with the sound of his name LOUIS,His great soul does not have ambitious projects;He presents the olive branch armed with his thunder, And this hero makes war Only to guarantee us peace.41
Within the public arena of the Salon, manuscript verse was a survival of an older, courtly system of patronage and display in which praise was a public matter and criticism was a private matter.
By claiming territory in the official space of the exhibition, manuscript verse declared its primacy over printed art criticism, which was always elsewhere. Unlike printed art criticism, manuscript verse was an index of the encounter between poet and artwork. Printed art criticism circulated in numerous more or less identical copies and was often issued after the exhibition ended; its multiplicity and belatedness separated it from the time and space of spectatorship. The manuscript poem, tacked to the wall or to the back of an artwork during the exhibition, memorialized its locus of inspiration.
Like impromptu verse, manuscript verse was performative. Its very physical nature emphasized its impromptu aspect. Le Blanc observes that the verse for Lemoyne's bust of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the Salon of 1747 was written "au crayon,"—a term encompassing graphite and pastel—a humble medium that lacked the cachet and permanence of ink.42 Crayon, [End Page 68] more portable than ink that is used at a desk, afforded improvisatory, onthe-spot writing; one pictures the poet standing before the bust, jostled by the crowd, scribbling verse on a scrap of paper. In the display space of the Salon, the medium represented a compromise between the ephemerality of oral performance and the durability of the inscription.
Manuscript poems in the Salon, produced in a context of orality, were an outgrowth of the aristocratic ethos that abjured publication and for which the worldly distractions of polite society provided a framework for versification.43 Manuscript poems in the Salon related to the poems composed to amuse and entertain literary salons that society hostesses such as Julie de Lespinasse and Madame du Deffand preserved in manuscript form. Such verse was so intimately connected to the sociability in which it was created that its publication in print drained its essence. As Jaucourt observes in his Encyclopédie article on the bon mot, another social, epigrammatic, poetic form, "not all bons mots are capable of surviving in print. Most lose their grace when they are removed from the circumstances that gave birth to them, circumstances that are not easy to make perceptible to those who were not witness to them."44
If manuscript verse in the Salon du Louvre related to practices of versification in the literary salons, its physical presence in the Salon on the occasion of an exhibition intended to glorify the king's patronage tied it to the rhetoric of courtly display. Absolutist rhetoric depended on the presence (actual or represented) of the monarch before an audience. This rhetoric was both implicit and explicit in the Salon, which took place in the King's house, whose centerpiece was a representation of the king, usually in the form of a portrait displayed on a dais.45 Manuscript poems in the Salon related to poems in literary salons and at court because the literary salons were in certain respects an extension of court society.46
In the face of the emerging public sphere of art criticism, manuscript verse, by insisting on the site of encounter with art, affirms both the social logic of the aristocratic ethos and the indexical logic of absolutism. That different media of communication corresponded to different social spheres and logics is evident in the hierarchical relationship between manuscript verse in the Salon that addressed reigning monarchs and representatives of the state, and print verse whose subjects were bourgeois heroes. Print—reproductive prints, art criticism, printed poetry—transcended space. In contrast, voice and manuscript insisted on their unique site of encounter in the representational grandeur of absolutism where the monarch's power is visualized in personal display, and the aristocratic ethos of the literary salon defined by orality.47
Manuscript poems co-existed with both the oral practices of the Salon and the literary salons and the print practices of journalism. Rather than [End Page 69] representing distinct spheres, these logics of engagement and communication were entwined. Such was the network of rumor that manuscript verse passed into print when it was reported in the press, just as the poems of the literary salons passed into manuscript and eventually into print. The dialectical tensions of media of communication comprised the contradictory discursive environment of the Salon.
Ryan Whyte is chair of the B.A. Honours Program in Visual and Critical Studies at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University. Recent publications include "Le Critique à table: Grimod de La Reynière et l'image de la gastronomie," in Julia Csergo and Frédérique Desbuissons, eds., Le Cuisinier et l'art. Art du cuisiner et cuisine d'artiste (XVIIIe-XXIe siècles) (2018) and "Pocket Museums: The Display of Art in Women's Almanacs During the First French Empire," in Heidi Strobel and Jennifer Germann, eds., Materializing Gender in Eighteenth-Century Europe (2016).
1. Robert Darnton, "An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris," The American Historical Review 105, no. 1 (February 2000): 1–35.
2. Salon 1747/52; a gilded plaster after the lost original is in Sizergh Castle, Cumbria, North, National Trust inv. NT 998576.
3. "Par ses vertus, par ses exploits / Souverains, apprenez à mériter de l'être, / Guerriers instruisez-vous, & rougissez Anglois/D'avoir méconnu votre Maître." Lettre sur l'exposition des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, etc. de l'Anné 1747 … (1747), 101.
4. Salon 1747/111; Musée du Louvre INV. 27611-recto.
5. Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé.
6. Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne.
7. "on a mis ces Vers-ci au bas de ce Portrait: Héros sans vanité, Courtisan sans bassesse, / Jamais d'aucun revers il n'éprouve les coups; / Condé de sa valeur auroit été jaloux; / Turenne eut vanté sa sagesse." Le Blanc, Lettre, 84.
8. Louis de Bourbon, comte de Clermont.
9. "Voici d'autres Vers qui ont été écrits au-dessous de Portrait de ce Prince. LOUIS, par ces Héros dignement secondé, / Du Germain, de l'Anglois rend l'alliance vaine: / MAURICE est un autre TURENNE, / CLERMONT est un second CONDÉ." Le Blanc, 84.
10. Paris, private collection; Albert Besnard and Georges Wildenstein, La Tour. La vie et l'oeuvre de l'artiste (Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, 1928), no. 95; "figure hideuse, beau morceau de peinture," Oeuvres complètes de Diderot, 20 vols. (Paris: Garnier frères, 1876), 11: 151, see also 24 (Salon de 1767).
11. "Le public est plus clairvoyant qu'on ne pense. … Ses talens ont parlé pour lui. La vérité a trahi son secret, & nous osons assurer que cent personnes l'ont reconnu à travers le voile de sa modestie. Au revers du portrait de M. Demours, Médecin Oculiste du Roi, on a trouvé ces vers : Dibutade, autrefois conduite par l'Amour, / Traça de son amant une image frappante. / Aujourd'hui l'Amitié, triomphant à son tour, / Pour rendre d'un ami l'image ressemblante, / A conduit le crayon du célèbre la Tour." Mercure de France (October 1767): 179.
12. Antoine Bret, Épitre au roy, Sur quelques Tableaux exposés au Louvre pour le Concours proposé par Mr. de Tournehem, Directeur Général des Bâtimens (1747). On the Concours of 1747, see Christophe Henry, "La peinture en question: Genèse conflictuelle d'une fonction sociale de la peinture d'histoire en France au milieu du XVIIIe siècle," in Thomas W. Gaehtgens, L'art et les normes sociales au 18e siècle (Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme, 2001), 459–76.
13. Bret, Épitre, 3. Musée du Louvre INV. 2714.
14. Salon 1741/2; Athalie interroge Joas, Musée des beaux-arts de Brest, inv. 967.3.1. One could add the subgenre of the epistle to painting, for example Epitre sur la Peinture, à monsieur de S …, Georges Duplessis, Catalogue de la collection des pièces sur les beaux-arts imprimées et manuscrites, recueillie par Pierre-Jean Mariette, Charles-Nicolas Cochin et M. Deloynes, Auditeur des Comptes, et acquise récemment par le Département des Estampes de la Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, 1881), hereafter Deloynes 2056; Epitre à madame de S … sur la Peinture (1714), Deloynes 2055, and the epistle to the artist, e.g. Gabriel Bouquier, Epitre à monsieur Vernet peintre du roi membre de l'académie royale de peinture et sculpture par m. bouquier (1773), Deloynes 155.
15. For an overview of the phenomenon, see W. McAllister Johnson, Versified Prints: A Literary and Cultural Phenomenon in Eighteenth-Century France (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 2012). However, this book does not contextualize print verse in relation to period literary culture, practice, or institutions.
16. Antony Griffiths, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550–1820 (London: The British Museum Press, 2016), 87.
17. Griffiths, Print, 88–89.
18. Salon 1740, 24; Roger Portalis and Henri Béraldi, Les Graveurs du dixhuitième siècle, 6 vols. (Paris: Damascène Morgand et Charles Fatout, 1881), 2: 661.
19. "L'art ne vous prête point sa frivole imposture, / Dufrêne, vos attraits, vos talens enchanteurs / N'ont jamais dû qu'à la nature / Le don de plaire aux yeux et d'attendrir les coeurs."
20. Edme-François Mallet, "Epigramme," Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, ed. Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, 28 vols. (Paris: Briasson, David l'aîné, Le Breton, Durand, 1751–72), 5: 793 (1755); Louis de Jaucourt, "Mot bon," Enc., 10: 763 (1765).
21. "Un ouvrage soit manuscrit, soit imprimé, qui par la petitesse de son volume est sujet à se perdre aisément," 2 vols. Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise (Paris: Jean-Baptiste Coignard, 1740), 1: 733, s.v. "Fugitif."
22. "Par les talens unis à la décence, / tu te fais respecter & chérir tour à tour ; / si tu souris comme l'Amour, / tu parles comme l'innocence," Almanach des muses (Paris: Delalain, 1766), 13.
23. Salon 1781/74; Clermont-Ferrand, Musée d'art Roger-Quilliot inv. 2329; 861.154.1; 56.271.1. Égide de Lespinasse Langeac, "Pour le Portrait de M. Thomas," "On ne sait en l'aimant ce qu'on chérit le plus, / de son ame, ou de son génie ; / par ses vastes talens, il irrite l'envie, / & la soumet par ses vertus." Almanach des muses (Paris: Delalain, 1782), 60.
24. "Plus avant dans les coeurs, par des traits plus profonds, / Sa lyre souveraine a su porter les sons. / Ses chants font respirer les tragiques alarmes : / Il vit par leur pouvoir le zoïle enchaîné, / Trahi par des sanglots, s'abandonner aux larmes, / Et n'opposa jamais à l'effort de ses armes / Qu'un art victorieux et qu'un front couronné," Émile Bellier de La Chavignerie, Les Artistes français du XVIII siècle oubliés ou dédaignés (Paris: Veuve Jules Renouard, 1865), 100. For an introduction to the Salon de La Correspondance, see Laura Auricchio, "Pahin de la Blancherie's Commercial Cabinet of Curiosity (1779–87)," Eighteenth-Century Studies 36, no. 1 (2002): 47–61.
25. Both print verse and poems for portraits published in the Almanach des muses were sometimes anonymous, sometimes attributed.
26. "A l'auteur du Journal, Paris, 8 Janvier 1787," Journal général de France 11 (25 Janvier 1787): 43.
27. "From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 8 February 1786," The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 33 vols., 1 November 1785–22 June 1786, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1954), 9: 264–71.
28. Salon 1743, 43; Marcel Roux, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1949), vol. 6, no 47, 81.
29. "Le Globe mal connu qu'il a sçu mesurer, / Devient un monument où sa gloire se fonde; / Son sort est de fixer la figure du Monde, / De lui plaire, et de l'éclairer."
30. "chétif quatrain," "A M. Loc-Maria, Bruxelles, 17 de juillet 1741," Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, 56 vols. (Paris: Perronneau, 1821), 46: 132.
31. "Une inscription latine me déplaît, parce que je suis bon Français. Je trouve ridicule que nos jetons, nos médailles et nos louis soient latins. En Allemagne, en Angleterre, la plupart des devises sont françaises; il n'y a que nous qui n'osions pas parler notre langue dans les occasions où les étrangers la parlent. Je sens très bien qu'il faudrait faire toutes les inscriptions en français, mais aussi cela est trop difficile. La marche de notre langue est trop gênée, notre rime délaie en quatre vers ce qu'un vers latin pourrait facilement exprimer," Oeuvres de Voltaire, 46: 132.
32. Nicole Masson, La poésie fugitive au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2002).
33. "Impromtu," Enc., 8: 630 (1765).
34. Private collection. The original painting is Salon 1785/112; Limoges, private collection.
35. "On veut qu'un plaisant ait à ce sujet adressé l'impromptu suivant à l'artiste: Taillasson, ôte de ce lieu / Ta Thérèse trop adorable! / Tandis qu'elle se donne à Dieu, / Elle nous fait donner au diable." Mémoires historiques, littéraires et critiques de Bachaumont …, 3 vols. (Paris: Léopold Collin, 1808), 2: 220 (10 Septembre 1785).
36. "une raillerie ingénieuse," Jaucourt, "Impromtu."
37. Noël Étienne Sanadon, Les poësies d'Horace, traduites en françois … (Amsterdam: Arkstée et Merkus, 1756), 2: 232.
38. Dictionnaire, 1: 869, s.v. "In-promptu."
39. "Ce qu'on écrit sur du cuivre, sur du marbre, aux édifices publics, aux Arcs de triomphe, &c. pour conserver la mémoire de quelque personne, de quelque événement considérable," Dictionnaire, 1: 870, s.v. "Inscription."
40. Untraced; a marble likely after this work is at Versailles, inv. MV 9045.
41. "Quelqu'un inspiré par une Muse ami du vrai, a attaché les Vers suivants au bas de ce Buste. Le modelle des Rois, l'amour de ses Sujets, / Si du bruit de son nom LOUIS remplit la Terre, / Sa grande ame n'a pas d'ambitieux projets ; / Il présente l'Olive armé de son Tonnerre, / Et ce Héros ne fait la guerre / Que pour nous assurer la paix," Le Blanc, 100.
42. Le Blanc, 101. See Enc. (1754), 4:429, s.v. "Craion."
43. On the aristocratic ethos in the Salons and attitudes toward publication, see Antoine Lilti, The World of the Salons: Sociability and Worldliness in Eighteenth-Century Paris (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), 158 and passim.
44. "tous les bons mots ne sont pas capables de soutenir la presse. La plûpart perdent leur grace, dès qu'on les rapporte détachés des circonstances qui les ont fait naître; circonstances qu' il n' est pas aisé de faire sentir à ceux qui n' en ont pas été les témoins," Jaucourt, "Mot bon," 763.
45. For example, the portrait of Louis XIV by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743), Salon 1704, 4; Louvre INV 7492.
46. On the literary Salons, see Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994); Joan B. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988); Norbert Elias, The Civilising Process: The History of Manners, vol. 1, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978).
47. On the visual semiotics of absolutism, see Louis Marin, Le Portrait du roi (Paris: Les Éditions du minuit, 1981).