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Provence and the British Imagination

 | 
Claire Davison
, 
Béatrice Laurent
, 
Caroline Patey
, 
et al.

Early encounters

“My very dreams are of Provence”: Le bon Roi René, from Walter Scott to the Pre-Raphaelites

Laurent Bury

Texte intégral

1In one of his later novels, Anne of Geierstein, Sir Walter Scott (1781-1832) contrasted his main setting, Switzerland, with a very different region: Provence, under the rule of count René d’Anjou (1409-1480). Some thirty years later, William Morris decorated a piece of furniture which his collaborators had baptized King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet (fig. 3). How could ‘le bon Roi René’ become such an inspiring figure for the second Pre-Raphaelite generation? Which part, if any, did Scott and Provence play in their decision to honour the memory of René d’Anjou? These are some of the questions I will try to answer.

2In August 1827, some twelve years after his literary fame reached unprecedented proportions thanks to his first novel Waverley, Scott decided to add one last title to his series of Waverley Novels: Anne of Geierstein; or, the Maiden of the Mist, situated during the War of the Roses. It was actually a commission from his publisher, Robert Cadell, who wanted to capitalize on the success of Quentin Durward, situated in France during the reign of Louis XI. It seemed a good idea to offer the public a kind of sequel, so as to finance the costly project of a new illustrated edition of Scott’s works. The novelist conceived a story starting in Switzerland, a country whose history he did not really know and whose landscapes he had never seen, but Cadell provided him with the necessary documentation. In 1829, the book met with the expected success, being one of Scott’s most popular works after 1825. It attracted favourable reviews, but the historical ingredient was judged more interesting than the plot itself, the two being less happily intertwined than usual.

3Anne of Geierstein mainly takes place in Switzerland, then in Burgundy, but the last quarter of the book is set in Provence, a region of which, once again, Scott had no first-hand knowledge. He was helped by his friend James Skene of Rubislaw (1775-1864), with whom he had studied law some twenty-five years before. An amateur painter, Skene gave him valuable help which went well beyond a few details. Apparently, the inclusion of Provence in Anne of Geierstein was largely due to Skene’s touristic stay in that region:

Upon his describing to me the scheme which he had formed for that work, I suggested to him that he might with advantage connect the history of René, King of Provence, which would lead to many interesting topographical details which my residence in that country would enable me to supply, besides the opportunity of illustrating so eccentric a character as ‘le bon roi René,’ full of traits which were admirably suited to Sir Walter’s graphic style of illustration, and that he could besides introduce the ceremonies of the Fête Dieu with great advantage, as I had fortunately seen its revival the first time it was celebrated after the interruption of the revolution. He liked the idea much, and, accordingly, a Journal which I had written during my residence in Provence, with a volume of accompanying drawings and [Abbé Jean-Pierre] Papon’s History of Provence was forthwith sent for, and the whole dénouement of the story of Anne of Geierstein was changed, and the Provence part woven into it, in the form in which it ultimately came forth. (Scott 2000, 504)

4This version is confirmed by Scott, who adds in his Journal, 17 February 1829: “Something may be made out of King René, but I wish I had thought of him sooner” (Scott [1829] 2000, 414). And yet the presence of René d’Anjou in the novel is far from being incongruous. Anne of Geierstein starts a few years after the battle of Tewkesbury, a victory for the House of York, a defeat for King Henry VI and the House of Lancaster. Scott’s two British heroes, who have remained loyal to their vanquished sovereign, come to the Continent in order to obtain the help of the Duke of Burgundy (hence the title that was given to the French translation, also published in 1829, Charles le Téméraire, ou Anne de Geierstein, la fille du brouillard). In the third volume, while in Strasburg, the two travellers meet King Henry’s exiled widow, Margaret of Anjou (1429-1482), who was in fact King René’s own daughter.

5As we shall see, Provence is introduced in the novel for three main reasons: as a strategic element in the negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy; as the setting for part of the plot, Scott having used several different sources to describe the sites which he had not seen with his eyes; and through the colourful figure of King René, whom he unashamedly caricatured.

6On a geopolitical level, Provence appears in Anne of Geierstein as a bargaining chip, a territory which is doomed to be bartered to the highest bidder. For the Duke of Burgundy, this might be an excellent opportunity to increase his domain. If Charles the Bold agrees to send a military contingent across the Channel to reinforce the Lancaster army, the former Queen of England promises to convince her father: King René will bequeath Provence to the heir presumptive supported by Margaret of Anjou. Charles’s ambitions thus reach a climax: “Burgundy joined to Provence – a dominion from the German ocean to the Mediterranean!” (Scott [1829] 2000, 282). The cession of Provence is therefore at the heart of the talks led by the Duke of Oxford with continental powers, and the diplomat’s art consists in advancing the most adequate arguments:

Here is Provence, which interferes betwixt you and the Mediterranean. Provence, with its princely harbours, and fertile cornfields and vineyards – were it not well to include it in your map of sovereignty, and thus touch the middle sea with one hand, while the other rested on the sea-coast of Flanders? (Scott [1829] 2000, 281)

7The negotiator paints a portrait of the Duke of Burgundy as master of the Western world, a kind of giant overcoming all obstacles, easily straddling across Europe to extend his sprawling authority. Besides, Charles the Bold is not the only one who has designs over King René’s territory: “I am satisfied that France and Burgundy are hanging like vultures over Provence, and that the one or other, or both, are ready, on [René’s] demise, to pounce on such possessions as they have reluctantly spared to him during his life” (Scott [1829] 2000, 289). There we meet again Louis XI as a rival for the Duke of Burgundy, the sentence also reminding us that most of René’s lands were arbitrarily shared between those two rulers, exactly at the time when Scott’s novel is supposed to take place. Indeed, Anjou and Provence were soon to be pocketed by the French king. While the crown’s ambitions are anything but disguised, the Duke of Burgundy hides his own behind more poetical motives: “‘Provence, said you?’ – replied the Duke, eagerly; ‘why, man, my very dreams are of Provence. I cannot smell to an orange but it reminds me of its perfumed woods and bowers, its olives, citrons, and pomegranates’” (Scott [1829] 2000, 281).

8As a setting for the novel, Provence hardly conforms to such an idealized vision. Once again, James Skene was opportunely there to provide Scott with fodder for his descriptions. From his stay in France, Skene had brought back several watercolours showing the sights of Aix and its region, where he had spent six months, and they came in handy for the novelist: “Calld on Skene and saw some of his drawings of Aix,” writes Scott in his Journal on 19 February 1829 (Scott [1829] 2000, 414). The Edinburgh City Library holds some two hundred works by Skene, painted between 1817 and 1837. In 1829, the same year as Anne of Geierstein, Skene published a book entitled A Series of Sketches of the Existing Localities Alluded to in the Waverley Novels. A second volume was planned but was never printed, unfortunately: five pictures should have been devoted to our novel, including two Provence landscapes (‘St. Victoire’ and ‘La Garagoulle’, after the watercolours now housed at the National Gallery of Scotland; Skene also painted ‘Le cheminè du roy Rénè’[sic]).

9Only in Chapter 29 (there are 36 in the novel) does one of the protagonists arrive in Provence.

It was late in autumn, and about the period when the southeastern countries of France rather show to least advantage. The foliage of the olive-trees is then decayed and withered, and as it predominates in the landscape, and resembles the scorched complexion of the soil itself, an ashen and arid hue is given to the whole. Still, however, there were scenes in the hilly and pastoral parts of the country, where the quantity of evergreens relieved the eye even in this dead season. (Scott [1829] 2000, 320-21)

10Provence pales in comparison with the splendours of Switzerland or the sublime heights of the Alps. A sense of gloomy sterility prevails in the rapid sketch offered by Scott, to which a few words are occasionally added to increase the feeling of drought and danger in a wilderness which remains hostile to man (Scott [1829] 2000, 334). Provence is ironically depicted as “the Arcadia of France” (Scott [1829] 2000, 323) on the occasion of a ludicrous pastoral scene, with a flock of sheep whose bleating improvises variations on their shepherd’s tune.

11As we can see, the region hardly imposes on a tourist’s attention by its natural beauties. Nevertheless, Scott does mention the Sainte Victoire, “a mountain three thousand feet and upwards in height, which arose at five or six miles’ distance, and which its bold and rocky summit rendered the most distinguished object of the landscape” (Scott [1829] 2000, 330). The novelist improves the occasion by recalling the highly anachronistic legend according to which the Roman general Gaius Marius had a monastery built there, to celebrate his victory over the Cimbri and Teutons. But there’s the rub: the aforesaid victory took place in 102 BC, which makes it difficult to associate it with a Christian institution.

The Sainte-Victoire also includes, in a cavern under the monastery, a place which could satisfy the Romantic taste for the sublime, for those landscapes where untamed Nature offers those frightening chasms which send man back to his own minuteness within the universe.
In the middle of this cavern is a natural pit, or perforation, of immense, but unknown depth. A stone dropped into it is heard to dash from side to side, until the noise of its descent, thundering from cliff to cliff, dies away in distant and faint tinkling, less loud than that of a sheep’s bell at a mile’s distance. The common people, in their jargon, call this fearful gulf, Lou Garagoule. (Scott [1829] 2000, 339)

12As we said before, Scott had no personal knowledge of Provence, hence the “somewhat overdrawn” description (Baring-Gould 1905, 62). Scott had even less knowledge of the Provençal language. The chasm is actually named ‘lou garagai’, and nowadays it is known that, far from being unfathomable, it is 120 meters deep. To describe it, Scott had used his imagination, starting from the scanty information given by Anne Plumptre in her book Narrative of a Three Years’ Residence in France (1810), completed by Skene’s watercolours, of course.

13Some less negative depictions were inspired by the city of Aix, especially its monuments which had already vanished by Scott’s time, like King René’s palace, uniting Gallo-Roman vestiges with a medieval structure: “It is not more than thirty or forty years since this very curious remnant of antique art was destroyed, to make room for new public buildings, which have never yet been erected” (Scott [1829] 2000, 328). The novelist seems to denounce the incapacity of the governments which had followed one another in France since 1779, the year when the palace was pulled down. The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur fares hardly better: it is very briefly mentioned on the occasion of the funeral of Margaret of Anjou (who in fact died several years later in Angers): “[t]hat beautiful church in which the spoils of Pagan temples have contributed to fill up the magnificence of the Christian edifice. The stately pile was duly lighted up, and the funeral provided with such splendour as Aix could supply” (Scott [1829] 2000, 366).

14As can be seen, the true reason for the presence of Provence in Anne of Geierstein is King René’s fascinating personality. An early-twentieth-century guide of Provence introduced him as “that most unfortunate Mark Tapley of monarchs” (Baring-Gould 1905, 62), and indeed René d’Anjou seems to have always preserved his good spirits in the face of adversity, like Martin Chuzzlewit’s companion in Dickens’s novel. Scott quotes Shakespeare, who had already opened the doors of British literature to King René without naming him in so many words: in Henry VI, the duke of York fights the wife of King Henry. York calls her ‘She-wolf of France’ (like Isabelle, Edward II’s queen), and addresses her in the following manner:

Thy father bears the type of King of Naples,
Of both the Sicils and Jerusalem,
Yet not so wealthy as an English yeoman.
Hath that poor monarch taught thee to insult?
(Henry VI. 3, 1.4.121-24; Scott [1829] 2000, 325)

15Actually, it seems that Scott directly referred to Shakespeare’s source, the Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland published in 1577 by Raphael Holinshed, which does not mean that his testimony is historically more reliable.

16At the time when Anne of Geierstein supposedly takes place, the real René d’Anjou was 65: he was therefore not “a king, eighty years of age” (Scott [1829] 2000, 324), but this is just one of the many liberties which Scott allowed himself. The novelist had to fight in order to impose this character, whom neither his publisher nor his printer liked; in a letter to Cadell, dated 14th April 1829, he defended him notably as a foil for Charles the Bold, whose wild temper he set into relief: “I retrenchd a good deal about the Troubadours which was really hors de place. As to King René I retaind him as a historical character. […] After all K. René is a historical [figure] highly characteristic of the times” (Scott [1829] 2000, 417). From the historical figure, Scott only retained the most ludicrous aspects. A king without a kingdom, René is indifferent to political questions, he only cares for art, hence the passage about Provençal Troubadours which Scott had to reduce, but where he still denounces their poetry that was “too frequently used to soften and seduce the heart, and corrupt the principles” (Scott [1829] 2000, 318).

17In the novel, René is a ridiculous old man, who only thinks of arranging parties and costumed pageants with mythological pretexts, while all around him worry about the fate of the region over which he still rules. A frivolous creature, always ready to make a show of himself, dancing or singing, he is there to introduce an element of comic relief. However, even though “his head was incapable of containing two ideas at the same time” (Scott [1829] 2000, 354), he is somewhat redeemed by the last words concerning him: “René is incapable of a base or ignoble thought; and if he could despise trifles as he detests dishonour, he might be ranked high in the list of monarchs” (Scott [1829] 2000, 369). The most severe judgment is in fact that passed by Queen Margaret, for whom no words seem to be harsh enough to describe him, when she explains that she chose to run away from her contemptible father’s court. She eventually reaches a less biased opinion of him:

I have thought on the offences I have given the old man, and on the wrongs I was about to do him. My father, let me do him justice, is also the father of his people. They have dwelt under their vines and fig-trees, in ignoble ease perhaps, but free from oppression and exaction, and their happiness has been that of their good King. (Scott [1829] 2000, 338)

18Nevertheless, King René’s reputation was certainly not improved by Anne of Geierstein. And yet, it was probably Scott’s novel which, a few decades later, inspired the creation of one of the greatest collective endeavours of the second Pre-Raphaelite generation, King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet. This piece of furniture, one of the gems of the 1862 International Exhibition, brought together William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and their elder Ford Madox Brown, among others.

19In the mid-Victorian period, Walter Scott’s novels were still the staple of any good collection of British fiction. William Morris had started to read them when he was four; by the age of seven, he claimed to have read them all: “Scott, he used to say, meant more to him than Shakespeare” (McCarthy 1994, 6). But it was not only through the latter’s Henry VI or the former’s Anne of Geierstein that the Pre-Raphaelites knew of King René. In August 1852, the young painter Thomas Seddon wrote to Ford Madox Brown: “I hope to become a passé-maître en chevalerie. I have got the Roi René’s book on Tournois to read. He is such a courteous old gentleman, a perfect connoisseur of the olden time, who, if he lived now, would buy Hunt’s pictures, and write the book of ball-room etiquette” (Seddon 1858, 21). The Traité de la forme et devis comme on fait les tournois was written by René d’Anjou and illustrated in the mid-fifteenth century by Barthélémy d’Eyck, the ‘Maître du Cœur d’Amour épris’, from the name of another superbly illuminated manuscript, also commissioned by King René.

20Thomas Seddon’s younger brother, architect John Pollard Seddon (1827-1906), designed a massive cabinet to house all his plans and drawings in 1861. He had it manufactured by the family firm, Seddon & Sons. Author of a book on gothic ornamentation written in 1852, a member of the Medieval Society since 1857, J. P. Seddon left a few buildings, such as the University of Aberystwyth (1864-1871), and many more projects, like the Imperial Monumental Halls and Tower (1904), a mausoleum to all British subjects who died for the Empire which, if it had been erected, would have dwarfed the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey into nothingness.

21In June 1860, William Morris and his wife moved into the Red House built for them by Philip Webb, entirely decorated in an original brand of neo-medievalism, with pseudo-Gothic embroideries, wallpapers, furniture painted by Morris himself or frescoes by Burne-Jones. Less than one year later, having found his vocation, William Morris created his own business, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., with seven partners beside Morris himself: painters Edward Burne-Jones, D.G. Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, architect Philip Webb, and two non-artist friends, Charles Faulkner and Peter Marshall. In the prospectus which was then circulated, one could read:

These Artists having been for many years deeply attached to the study of the Decorative Arts of all time and countries, have felt more than most people the want of some one place, where they could either obtain or get produced work of a genuine and beautiful character. They have therefore now established themselves as a firm, for the production, by themselves, and under their supervision, of:
I. Mural Decoration, either in Pictures or in Pattern Work…
II. Carving generally, as applied to Architecture.
III. Stained Glass…
IV. Metal Work in all its branches, including Jewellery
V. Furniture, either depending for its beauty on its own design, or on the application of materials hitherto overlooked, or on its conjuncture with Figure and Pattern Painting. Under this head is included Embroidery of all kinds, Stamped Leather, and ornamental work in other such materials, besides every article necessary for domestic use. (McCarthy 1994, 172)

22J. P. Seddon knew the Pre-Raphaelites, as his recently deceased brother Thomas had been very close to the group and a pupil of Ford Madox Brown. In 1861, he was effortlessly drawn to the idea that his cabinet could be advantageously decorated by the recently opened Morris & Co. He apparently left the choice of the subject to the artists. According to Seddon, Brown himself decided: “The idea was to counter the presentation of René in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Anna von Geierstein, where the historical figure of King René of Anjou appears as a ridiculous fop” (Bendiner 1998, 179).

23King René, whom Scott had caricatured, was vindicated by the Pre-Raphaelites, but only through certain new distortions of historical truth. The allegorical scenes painted on the panels of the cabinet did not aim at being exact representations of episodes from René’s life, but rather an evocation of the atmosphere created in Provence by a king who had favoured the flourishing of art. This neo-medieval object did not show the king himself, but claimed to look like the furniture which René could have commissioned for his own honeymoon (fig. 3).

24The four scenes decorating the big rectangular doors of the cabinet, corresponding to the major arts, were shared between three artists. ‘Architecture’ was attributed to Ford Madox Brown, ‘Music’ to Rossetti, ‘Painting’ and ‘Sculpture’ to Burne-Jones (fig. 4). On six smaller square panels are shown some minor arts: on the left, ‘Gardening’, by Rossetti, and ‘Embroidering’, by Val Prinsep; on the right, ‘Weaving’, by Burne-Jones, and ‘Pottery’; on the sides, ‘Glasswork’ and ‘Ironwork’, by unidentified artists (the latter craftsman does look very much like William Morris).

25The presence of ‘Architecture’ is easily explained by the function of the cabinet and by its designer’s profession. Ford Madox Brown, who had chosen that allegory for himself, justified it in the following words: “Of course, as soon as married, [King René] would build a new house, carve it and decorate it himself, and talk nothing but Art all the ‘Honeymoon’ (except indeed love)” (Bendiner 1998, 141). This Ruskinian ideal of the versatile artist does not appear in Anne of Geierstein, but Scott allows René to express some enthusiasm for his own palace, “the stately grace of which may be compared to the faultless form of some high-bred dame, or the artful, yet seeming simple modulations of such a tune as we have been now composing” (Scott [1829] 2000, 327-328). The image designed by F. M. Brown shows a melancholy monarch being kissed by his queen (fig. 5). However, the king’s attention seems to be turned towards the plan of his future castle, lying on the floor. The building does not bear the least resemblance to René’s real palace, such as Scott described it. Following his habit, Brown produced several versions of the motif initially conceived for Seddon’s cabinet, with the characters’ feelings changing little by little: the queen no longer kisses, but simply touches the king’s cheek with her own, and the smiling king looks pleased. The artist gave his own features to the monarch, whose ambiguous attitude to his wife recalls Brown’s masterpiece, The Last of England, whose protagonists – Brown and his wife, disguised as emigrants – contemplate a much more uncertain future than that of the builder-king. The moonlight added to some versions was justified by Brown’s indication: “It is twilight when the workmen are gone” (Bendiner 1998, 141).

26Music, with which René compared his palace, is very present in Anne of Geierstein. On his first appearance, the king is surrounded by Troubadours playing various instruments, “his mind seeming altogether engrossed with the apparent labour of some arduous task in poetry or music”. When he meets the young hero, he rejoices in having found “an acolyte in the noble and joyous science of Minstrelsy and Music” (Scott [1829] 2000, 325, 326). In Scott’s novel, King René sounds rather like the bard in Astérix, whom everybody else tries to prevent from singing (or dancing). To illustrate ‘Music’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti took up an idea which he had already used a few years earlier, in an illustration for Tennyson’s ‘Palace of Art’, where Saint Cecilia receives the fiery kiss of an angel. From his first sketches, Rossetti decided to have his royal pair kiss much more voluptuously than Brown’s, in spite of the rather cumbrous obstacle separating the lovers: an organ on which are inscribed the names of the lands over which King René ruled in theory (‘Hierusalem, Sicilia, Neapolis, Cyprus’ or ‘Cyprus, Navarre’, depending on the versions). Like Brown for ‘Architecture’, Rossetti produced an oil painting after this somewhat acrobatic composition, despite the hostile criticism which it attracted (fig. 6):

On one side is seated the lady, her fingers on the keys; on the other King René. They are kissing over the organ stops. It is, of course, natural for the lady, in order to be kissed, that she should stretch her arms out, so she touches the highest and lowest of the notes on the organ board. Still she is an exceedingly awkward and dumpy looking person, with her waist quite under her arms. The kissing man looks as if he were in a swoon, while the lady takes the salute in quite a matter-of-fact way. Though granting that Rossetti was all that is in opposition to realism, still, women never could have such swan-like necks as this painter presented them. (New York Times 1883)

27The allegories of ‘Painting’ and ‘Sculpture’ were allotted to young Burne-Jones, who was still at the very beginning of his career. In Anne of Geierstein, King René mentions painting, “an art which applies itself to the eye, as poetry and music do to the ear, and is scarce less in esteem with us” (Scott [1829] 2000, 327). Sculpture was not included among René’s preoccupations, according to Scott. On the other hand, those two arts did feature in the programme defined for Morris & Co, and that is probably why they were given pride of place. Like Brown and Rossetti, Burne-Jones also resorted to couples, but in much more modest positions. Behind the artist-king yielding the brush or the chisel, a devoted wife stands admiring his work: “None of the artists in question would have allowed that!” noted May Morris in her biography of her father (Morris [1936] 1966, 33).

28As for the smaller square scenes, they bear no relation to King René, but they offer an idealised vision of medieval craftsmanship, mainly through female figures (Rossetti left a splendid preparatory drawing for ‘Gardening’, and a not so splendid oil painting). On the cabinet, all those allegories are unified through their background: a monochrome panel under a pointed arch like in the oldest religious paintings, a golden grid which was painted by Morris himself, “with his usual keen decorative sense,” explained Seddon. The aim was to summon “the old spirit of chivalry” while reaching “the unity of the several fine arts and their accessories” (Banham and Harris 1984, 135). In other words, the goal was to realize the dream of King René, the patron of the arts caricatured by Scott or the multifaceted craftsman idealized by Ford Madox Brown, the poet, musician, dancer, architect, painter and sculptor. Such was also the dream formulated by William Morris in Art and the People (1883):

In those times when art flourished most, the higher and the lower kinds of art were divided from one another by no hard and fast lines; the highest of the intellectual art had ornamental character in it and appealed to all men, and to all the faculties of a man; while the humblest of the ornamental art shared in the meaning and deep feeling of the intellectual; one melted into the other by scarce perceptible gradations: or to put it into other words, the best artist was a workman, the humblest workman was an artist. (Bendiner 1998, 75)

29This utopia seemed to have come true in René’s Provence, a fantasy Provence, of course, since none of the artists involved had visited the region. Yet, confronting this purely imaginary work, which never claimed to be a historical reconstruction, the Victorians believed themselves transported back to the Middle Ages:

As ever with these young artists, there is a certain quality in all this work that one cannot define in a single word – an intensity of vision, and a simplicity of setting down, that make the scenes of medieval life they picture, however fanciful, a bit of life as it was lived; we are looking through a peep-hole at a medieval town; it may not have been exactly thus and thus, but the invention is vivid and human, and looking from afar, the twentieth century can greet the fifteenth century with understanding and fellowship. (Morris [1936] 1966, 33)

30Having been delayed because of political troubles in Italy, the South Kensington International Exhibition planned for 1861 finally took place in 1862. Like ten years before in the Crystal Palace, one of its attractions was the ‘Mediaeval Court’, where Seddon displayed his neo-gothic furniture. Morris & Co invested some £25 for two stands, one devoted to stained-glass, the other to furniture. There, people could admire the St George Cabinet, a very simple object designed by Philip Webb and painted by William Morris, and the much more complex King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet. A few hostile or sarcastic voices were heard in the newspapers, but the operation was a commercial success, with excellent sales and new customers.

31The story of King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet did not stop there, however. Beside the oil paintings and watercolours produced by the artists, Morris gave a new lease of life to the allegories conceived for the cabinet by transforming them into stained-glass windows, in different versions. The first set was apparently commissioned by Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899), a well-known landscape painter who, despite his much more conservative art, was interested in the innovations of his pre-Raphaelite contemporaries. Birket Foster asked Morris & Co to decorate The Hill, his house in Witley, Surrey. This included some stained-glass inspired from King René’s Cabinet (Figs. 7, 8, 9, 10), and in 1882 one of those windows was in turn immortalized by Birket Foster himself in a watercolour entitled The Crockery Seller (sold in 2000 by Christie’s as ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’). Surrounded with china vases and other works of art which Victorian aesthetes passionately collected, the window manufactured after Ford Madox Brown’s Architecture occupies the exact centre of this work. Towards the end of the century, John Pollard Seddon devoted a book to his exceptional cabinet, and this may well have been one of the last occasions when the name of King René was submitted to the attention of the British public, before the rise of mass tourism allowed them to come and visit Aix-en-Provence, where they can see the statue sculpted by David d’Angers and walk along the Boulevard du Roi René…

Fig. 3 - John Pollard, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edward Burne - Jones, Edward Coley, Val Prinsep, Seddon and Sons, King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861, oak, inlaid with various woods with painted metalwork and painted panels, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 3 - John Pollard, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edward Burne - Jones, Edward Coley, Val Prinsep, Seddon and Sons, King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861, oak, inlaid with various woods with painted metalwork and painted panels, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 4 - John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 4 - John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 5 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861

Fig. 5 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861

Fig. 6 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti ‘Music’panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861

Fig. 6 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti ‘Music’panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861

Fig. 7 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘Music’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 7 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘Music’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 8 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 8 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 9 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Painting’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 9 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Painting’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 10 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Sculpture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig. 10 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Sculpture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Bibliographie

Banham, Joanna, and Jennifer Harris eds. 1984. William Morris and the Middle Ages: A Collection of Essays. Together with a Catalogue of Works Exhibited at the Whitworth Art Gallery, 28 September-8 December 1984. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Baring-Gould, Sabine. 1905. A Book of the Riviera. London: Methuen.

Bendiner, Kenneth. 1998. The Art of Ford Madox Brown. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Cooper, Suzanne F. 2009. “The Liquefaction of Desire: Music, Water and Femininity in Victorian Aestheticism”. Women, A Cultural Review 20 (2): 186-201.

McCarthy, Fiona. 1994. William Morris. A Life for Our Time. London: Faber & Faber.

Morris, May. [1936] 1966. William Morris: Artist, Writer, Socialist. With an Account of William Morris as I Knew Him by George Bernard Shaw. London, Russell and Russell.

New York Times. 1883. The Art Magazine for April, 19/03/1883, n. p.

Scott, Sir Walter. [1829] 2000. Anne of Geierstein. Ed. J.H. Alexander. The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, vol. 22. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, Seddon, John P. 1858. Memoir and Letters of the late Thomas Seddon, Artist, by his Brother John P. Seddon. London: James Nisbet and Co.

—. 1898. King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, Illustrated from photographs of the panels painted by D. G. Rossetti, Sir E. Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, etc., with a drawing by the author, London: B. T. Batsford.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 3 - John Pollard, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Edward Burne - Jones, Edward Coley, Val Prinsep, Seddon and Sons, King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861, oak, inlaid with various woods with painted metalwork and painted panels, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 136k
Titre Fig. 4 - John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 148k
Titre Fig. 5 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 136k
Titre Fig. 6 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti ‘Music’panel for John Pollard et al., King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet, 1861
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 148k
Titre Fig. 7 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘Music’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Titre Fig. 8 - Ford Madox Brown, ‘Architecture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
Titre Fig. 9 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Painting’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 136k
Titre Fig. 10 - Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Coley, ‘Sculpture’, King René’s Honeymoon, 1863, stained and painted glass, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
URL http://books.openedition.org/ledizioni/docannexe/image/802/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 135k

Auteur

Professor of Victorian literature at the Université Lumière – Lyon 2 and President of the French Society for Victorian and Edwardian Studies. He is the author of Seductive Strategies in the Novels of Anthony Trollope (Edwin Mellen, 2004) and L’Orientalisme victorien dans les arts visuels et la littérature (Grenoble University Press, 2010). He has published articles on Millais, Ruskin, and various Victorian writers, painters and art critics. He is currently working on a book about British women painters between 1850 and 1950.