Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tuileries Tournament

Le duc de Guyse, roy ameriquain

Comparse des cinq quadrilles dans l'amphitheatre

Mores portans des singes, et menans des ours

Pages romains

Timbalier et trompette ameriquains

Timbalier et trompette persans

Trompettes romains

Mareschal de camp ameriquain

Mareschal de camp indien

Mareschal de camp persan

Emblematic devices

Estafiers, cheval de main, et palfreniers indiens

Estafiers, cheval de main, et palfreniers persans

Estafiers, cheval de main, et palfreniers turcs

Le prince de Condé , empereur des turcs

Escuyer et page ameriquains

Escuyer et page turcs

Estafiers, cheval de main et palfreniers ameriquains

Le roy, empereur romain
[click for full size versions; mouseover for titles]

Prior to the royal court moving to Versailles, a festival was held by Louis XIV at Tuileries Palace in Paris in 1662 as a way of celebrating the birth of his son, Louis, le Grande Dauphin, the previous year.

After a procession past monuments in the streets of Paris the entourage entered the arena at (or adjacent to) the palace, which held 15,000 spectators. There followed an equestrian pageant {this book has an informal name of 'Circius Regius' or Royal Circus} in which the participants from the upper echelons of society and the Court were divided into groups, representing the 5 great nations: Romans, Moors (Indians), Turks, Persians and American Indians.

In the style of a medieval tournament the horsemen engaged in equestrian tests such as jousting through rings, and racing. The riders were all decked out in the finest jewel-encrusted silk brocade, streamers, feathered headwear and wigs with some of the saddles said to be covered by leopard and tiger skins. Although this is self-evident from the engravings perhaps, these kind of details are confirmed by eyewitness accounts, so the illustrators weren't always exaggerating.

The engravings, in a dramatic baroque style, were produced by François Chauveau and Sylvain Sylvestre. If you only enlarge one of the above images, look at the first one - the embellished grooming is fantastic, in all senses of the word. Such stylistic elements no doubt contributed to the book's popular reception when it was published in 1670. [As best as I understand it, there were no actual Americans or Turks etc in the parade - it was all a theatrical piece played out by Dukes, Princes and similar Lordly types, including Louis XIV himself who was unsurprisingly the Roman King]

The accompanying text was written by (the later) renowned fairytale writer, Charles Perrault {previously}, who was brother to the favoured architect of the Court at the time, Claude Perrault {previously}, designer of some major additions to Le Louvre.


Gypsy Purple said...

This is absolutely incredible....look at the detail on every piece!!
I`m stunned!!!

Jeane Goforth said...

I am always blown away by the images you present. My daily visit here is always a treat. Thank you!

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