English tea

English tea

  • English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764.

    OLLIVIER Michel Barthélemy (1712 - 1784)

  • English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764 [the characters].

    OLLIVIER Michel Barthélemy (1712 - 1784)

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Title: English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764.

Author : OLLIVIER Michel Barthélemy (1712 - 1784)

Creation date : 1764

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 530 - Width 680

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Picture reference: 93-000137-02 / MV 3824

English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

To close

Title: English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764 [the characters].

Author : OLLIVIER Michel Barthélemy (1712 - 1784)

School : French

Creation date : 1764

Date shown: 1764

Dimensions: Height 530 - Width 680

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Picture reference: 93-000137-02 / MV 3824

English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764 [the characters].

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Publication date: September 2013

Professor of modern history at Blaise-Pascal University (Clermont 2) and director of the Center for History "Spaces and Cultures.

Historical context

A painting school?

In 1764, when he painted English tea served in the Salon des Quatre-Glaces at the Palais du Temple in Paris in 1764, canvas completed in 1766, Michel Barthélemy Ollivier is a fifty year old firmly established in the art of printmaking, history and genre painting. A pupil of Charles-André Van Loo, he is closely related to the latter's nephew, Louis-Michel, his colleague, whom he accompanied to Spain in the 1730s at the court of Philip V of Spain. Like his alter ego, he returned to France in the early 1760s, recognized first by the Académie de Saint-Luc for its genre scenes (1764) then by the Académie royale de peinture (1766), where Louis -Michel Van Loo preceded him four years earlier. This one, in the service of the king, will become the ordinary painter of Prince Louis-François de Bourbon-Conti (1716-1776), a prestigious military leader, grandson of the Grand Condé, and one of the key figures of the princely opposition to Louis XV, his cousin.

In these two artists, who are brought to life by the commission and who are not unaware of the political meaning of official representations, there is a particular taste for testimony on the daily life and the intimacy of adults, at a time when philosophy commits to sociability and simplicity, two behaviors that the culture of salons falsely recommends. Barthélemy, who will also lay down on the canvas several hunting scenes in the center of which appears his patron, inscribed by the rest Tea in a set of three paintings painted in 1766, the other two parts of the triptych being the Feast given by Prince de Conti to the hereditary prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in L'Isle-Adam and the Prince de Conti's supper at the Temple.

Image Analysis

Power and sociability

Tea offers us as a freeze-frame, a "painting" in the theatrical sense of the term, which literally stages the entourage of Prince de Conti. The main subjects seem to be staring at the painter who sketches them while serving the tea "à l'anglaise", that is to say without a servant.

Everything in this Salon des Quatre-Glaces, an antechamber located in the north wing of the Temple Palace, exudes ease: the teapots and sweets offered according to the standards of the “French” buffet, the height of the ceilings and mirrors , the gilding of the cornices which underline the white of the woodwork, the heavy hangings, the clothes of the guests - men in long embroidered jackets and French clothes embellished with facings or black for lawyers, women wearing long silk dresses adorned with French or English (tightened at the waist). Wide striped fabrics are also borrowed from British fashion.

High aristocracy of the sword or the robe (the president of the Paris Parliament, Hénault), men of science, women of letters and wit (such as M.she de Boufflers, mistress of the Prince de Conti), protectors of writers (the Marshal of Luxembourg thus helps Rousseau) and artists mingle. The musicians, in the left part of the painting, do not benefit from the same light as the hosts. However, a young eight-year-old prodigy, comfortably installed, plays the harpsichord: it is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who then made his first European tour (1762-1766), staying in Paris from November 18, 1763 to April 10, 1764. , then from May 10 to July 9, 1766. Conti, peer of France, very influential defender of parliamentary freedoms and Jansenism, who affects to distinguish himself by a long wig from another time, indeed knows how to welcome the actors of a new musical sensibility, organizing many concerts from 1762 to 1771 and thus taking over from another salt worker, protector of Rameau, Le Riche de La Pouplinière.

Eudore Soulié, in his time as curator at Versailles, identified all the guests in detail, relying on a cartel that appeared on a replica of the painting kept at the Château de Neuilly until its looting and burning in February 1848: " On the right, a table at which the bailiff of Chabrillant is seated [no 1] and the mathematician of Ortous de Mairan [no 2]; the princess of Beauvau [no 3], standing, pouring a drink for the latter. On the front, the counts of Jarnac [no 4] and Chabot [no 5], standing, the first holding a dish, the other eating a cake; further on, the Countess of Boufflers [no 6] serving as a dish on a stove. President Hénault [no 7], dressed in black, is seated in front of a screen. The young Countess of Egmont [no 8], née Richelieu, holds a napkin and carries a dish, and the Countess of Egmont mother [no 9], dressed in red, is cutting a cake. Next to her is M. Pont de Vesle [no 10], leaning on the back of an armchair. The Prince of Henin [no 11], standing, rests his hand on the back of a chair, on which the Marshal of Luxembourg is seated [no 12] holding a saucer; between them is Mademoiselle de Boufflers [no 13], profile view. The Maréchale de Mirepoix [no 14] pours tea for Madame de Vierville [no 15]. Mademoiselle Bagarotti [famous singer, bo 16] is sitting all alone in front of a small pedestal table, near which is a kettle on a portable stove. The prince of Conti [no 17], seen from the back, is standing near Trudaine [no 18]. Finally, on the left, Mozart [no 19], child, touch of the harpsichord and Géliotte [no 20], standing, singing accompanied by the guitar; the knight of Laurency [no 21], gentleman of the prince, is standing behind Mozart, and the prince of Beauvau [no 22], seated, reads a brochure. The living room is decorated with large mirrors and over-doors depicting portraits of women. A cello and notebooks are placed in the left corner, and we read on a piece of paper:
Sweet and lively gaiety
Each one gives the example,
Tea altars are erected;
He deserved to have a temple.
” »

Interpretation

The identity of the salons

Removed from the court by the Marquise de Pompadour, Conti wants to testify that he too can unite when he sees fit a part of the world of thought, power, letters and the arts. Doesn't he lodge Rousseau? Doesn't he board Beaumarchais? Since each show reserves one day of the week, Conti invites dinner preferably on Mondays. He does so in a palace in the heart of Paris, which he has occupied since 1749 as Grand Prior of the Order of Saint-Jean-de-Jerusalem. Enjoying franchises, the right of asylum and exemptions from royal justice, he developed this enclosure of the Temple and had housing estates built there which enabled him to house nobles and debtors of the order: there was the micro-kingdom of a rebellious prince. His living room is reputed to feed criticism of Versailles.

Anglophile - and hostile to any alliance with Austria, the object of his disgrace at the court - the Prince de Conti obviously serves his guests the now national drink across the Channel: tea, which came from China to Europe in the 17th century.e century only, has supplanted coffee in the whole of British society, in town and in the countryside, while it remains little known in France, except in Parisian and Bordeaux circles in connection with Albion. Sometimes consumed for its supposed medicinal virtues, it can also be it out of snobbery: "He takes tea twice a day and he believes himself to be the merit of Locke or Newton", mocking Mr.me de Genlis, mistress of the Duke of Orleans, concerning one of his acquaintances. But there is hardly a salon in the 1760s, if not that of the too penniless Julie de Lespinasse, where one does not pride oneself on gastronomic discoveries, between two well-regulated conversations, two sarcasm or cleverly uttered good words, two ends rhymed collectively composed, and before possible board games, also sometimes imported.

  • Hobbies
  • music
  • Paris
  • painters
  • Versailles
  • court life

Bibliography

 Jean-Louis FLANDRIN and Massimo MONTANARI (dir.), Food history, Paris, Fayard, 1996.

 Florence GÉTREAU, “Return to portraits of Mozart on the keyboard: a state of the art”, in Thomas STEINER (ed.), Strings and keyboards in Mozart's time, proceedings of the Third International “Harmonic” Meetings in Lausanne (April 2006), Bern, Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Vienna, International Scientific Publishing Peter Lang, coll. “Publications of the Swiss Society of Musicology”, series II, vol. 53, 2010.

 Jacqueline HELLEGOUARC’H, The Spirit of Society. Parisian circles and “salons” in the 18th century, Paris, Garnier, 2000.

 Antoine LILTI, The World of exhibitions. Sociability and worldliness in Paris in the 18th century, Paris, Fayard, 2005.

 Philippe MEYZIE, Food in Europe in modern times, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. “U. History”, 2010.

 Daniel ROCHE, The Culture of Appearances. A history of clothing (17th-18th century), Paris, Fayard, 1989.

 Herbert C. TURRENTINE, “The Prince de Conti: A Royal Patron of Music”, in The Musical Quarterly, flight. 54, no.3, July 1968.

 Thomas VERNET, “The musical collections of the princes of Conti”, in Florence GÉTREAU (dir.), Musical Instrument Collections, Paris, C.N.R.S. Editions, 2006.

To cite this article

Philippe BOURDIN, "English tea"


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