Lysandre, a jeune premier (a leading man) in Molière’s theatre. His name recurs as do other names, such as Clitandre, Valère.
Molière used the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte, but when he was touring the provinces, he sometimes posted a sketch, le canevas, and characters wrote their role. In other words, Molière did not write comedies before he returned to Paris. But he had to publish his Précieuses ridicules so no one else could claim the comedy, a farce, was his or hers.
This is a very short post. My computer cannot access WordPress easily. My new computer should arrive soon. I’m upgrading.
I may publish early posts, the ones that were not read.
If the computer will let me, I will read your posts.
Despite the use of the word “for” (pour), it would appear that Jean-Antoine Watteau‘s (10 October 1684 – 18 July 1721) The Embarkation for Cythera (Louvre version) depicts “a departure” from the island of Cythera, the birthplace of Venus. According to Wikipedia, whose sites dealing with our subject have just been maintained, it symbolises “the temporary nature of human happiness.” (See Fêtes galantes, Wikipedia).
Consequently, the characters portrayed in The Embarkation for Cythera are not leaving our imperfect world to travel to the land of love, a land resembling Madeleine de Scudéry‘s (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701), famous carte de Tendre, or map of Tendre. They are returning from Cythera.
The Embarkation for Cythera is a painting rather than a text. After Watteau, however, Fêtes galantes re-entered literary works and music. The best-known literary Fêtes galantes is a collection of poems by Paul Verlaine, published in 1869. The theme also suffuses Pierre Louÿs’Les Chansons de Bilitis.
The term Fêtes galantes has roots in both 17th-century honnêteté and préciosité. As mentioned above, there was, on the one hand, a galant homme. He was an honnête homme and at times a précieux. On the other hand, there was un homme galant or a womanizer. The homme galant, was unlikely to be invited to salons, with the possible exception of persons such as Giacomo Casanova (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798).
The préciosité Molière mocked in his Précieuses ridicules (1659) developed in salons and promoted Platonic love. In Les Précieuses ridicules, Cathos expresses disdain for a man’s body. She tells her uncle Gorgibus:
Comment est-ce qu’on peut souffrir la pensée de coucher contre un homme vraiment nu ? (Les Précieuses ridicules, I, 4)
(How can one suffer the thought of sleeping next to a truly naked man?)
pastoral and heroic romances
la carte de Tendre
In early salons, the main activity of salonniers and salonnières was literature, witty literature. Salonniers and salonnièresengaged in “word games,” or the creation of ingenuous little poems. For instance, they would be given the end of lines of poetry to which they had to attach a beginning. These bouts-rimés (rhymed ends), as they were called, demanded inventiveness and substantial linguistic skills. A main characteristic of salon literature, poems mainly, is the use of the conceit (la pointe).
In fact, to be understood, galanterie must be contextualized. Paul Verlaine’s poems were hedonistic, but they were poems and therefore fictional. There is a Cythera, but Venus is a mythological figure. Madeleine de Scudéry‘s (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701), carte de Tendre, or map of Tendre,published in Clélie, histoireromaine, is a product of the imagination. Yet, préciosité is a moment in the history of love. Précieuses were real women.
La Guirlande de Julie
One instance of précieux love is the fourteen-year courtship Julie d’Angennes FR (1607 – 15 novembre 1671), Madame de Rambouillet‘s daughter, imposed on the Charles de Saint-Maure, duc de Montausier. Here, however, one senses genuine apprehensions: pregnancy, childbirth, and infant mortality. On her 35th birthday, Montausier gave Julie the exquisite Guirlande de Julie a collection of 62 madrigals,but Julie made the Duke wait five more years. This is how “precious” and perhaps frightened she was. They married on 15 July 1645 and, although the Duc de Montausier was an honnête homme and a galant homme, he was un homme. Julie got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter.
Préciosité, as mocked in Molière’s Précieuses ridicules (1659), was short-lived. However, as noted above, préciosité or disembodied loveis a milestone in the history of love. It belongs to thequerelle des femmes, the woman question. It therefore differs from chivalry and the Roman de la Rose, which promoted courtly love without rejecting sexual intimacy.
Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
La Chambre bleue d’Arthénice
Italian-born Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet (1588 – 2 December 1665) opened the first salon: L’Hôtel de Rambouillet, rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. Its Catherine de Vivonne called herself Arthénice, an anagram of Catherine. Hôtels were private residences (un hôtel particulier) and salon hostesses received once or twice a week. The hostess usually sat in bed and her guests were in a ruelle, literally and alley way, on a side ofthe bed. Madame de Rambouillet received in her blue room, la chambre bleue. Occasionally, salonniers and salonnières went on a picnic. That outing was called un cadeau, a gift. When the Marquise closed her salon,Madeleine de Scudéry (15 November 1607 – 2 June 1701) opened hers. Mademoiselle de Scudéry never married.
Let us return to Watteau’s 18th-century Fêtes galantes, Jean-Antoine Watteau’s paintings depicting “courtship parties.” (See Fêtes galantes, Wikipedia).
In Fêtes galantes personal sentiment is masked by delicately clever evocations of scenes and characters from the Italian commedia dell’arte and from the sophisticated pastorals of 18th-century painters, such as Watteau and Nicolas Lancret, and perhaps also from the contemporary mood-evoking paintings of Adolphe Monticelli.
Fêtes galantes are associated with the commedia dell’arte. Actors were, as in ‘to be,’ “masks.” As well, the sad clown is an archetype. Masquerade balls have survived. Balls go back to the ballet de cour. They are courtly and have a counterpart in festivals and carnavals.
Charles Sorel, who was named the historiographer of France in 1635, wrote Les Loix de la galanterie, first published in 1644, but galants met and discussed the rules of gallantry.
We have several e-copies of Sorel’s Loix or lois de la galanterie. However, despite repeated attempts, I have not found a translation into English of Charles Sorel‘s (c. 1602 – 7 March 1674) Loix de la galanterie. I presume there is a translation, but it is not on the internet. In my next post, I will therefore provide not a translation, but a summary of Les Loix de la galanterie, using Ludovic Lalanne’s text.
The terms honnête homme and galant homme are no longer used, nor is the term gentilhomme. The honnête homme is now called a gentleman in both French and English. The word gallant has survived and is used to describe men who still open the door of a car to help a woman out or hold a heavy door when a fragile individual enters or leaves a building or are very polite. The term “grande dame” is used to describe particularly accomplished women, including women who had a salon.
Fêtes galantes now belong to the discourse on love refined or “galant,” but love as depicted in Watteau’s ethereal Fêtes galantes.
____________________  Another version is housed at theCharlottenburg, in Berlin. Calligraphy by Nicolas Jaret. Paintings byNicolas Robert.  A madrigal could be either a song and a poem.  “Paul Verlaine”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 22 Apr. 2016 <http://www.britannica.com/biography/Verlaine-Paul>.
In Baroque music, galanteries were also suites of dances (see Galanteries). For instance, most ‘suites’ included a minuet, which is a dance. J. S. Bach composed French Suites, English Suites, and Partitas. Baroque music, however, was considered rather complex: intricate counterpoint, etc. The galant style would advocate simpler and more sentimental music. Bach’s sons composed music in the “galant” style. (See Fêtes galantes: Watteau & Verlaine in RELATED ARTICLES.)
But galanterie, as we know it, is not music. It is polite behaviour and, in particular, polite behaviour on the part of men courting women. In 17th-century France, l’honnête homme was quietly galant and préciosité demanded galanterie on the part of men. However, galanterie was not a synonym of honnêteté.
La Vraye Histoire comique de Francion, illustration by Martin van Maële (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nicolas Faret’s L’Honnête Homme, ou l’Art de plaire à la cour
Antoine Gombaud, chevalier de Méré’s letters and L’Honnête Homme et De la Vraie Honnêteté
In 1644, Charles Sorel (c. 1602 – 7 March 1674) published LesLoix de la galanterie, a short book. Sorel’s Loix de la galanterie is a book about the requirements of galanterie: money, fashionable clothes, acceptable manners, cleanliness, and étiquette in general. “Propreté, Civilité, Politesse, Éloquence, Adresse, Accortise, et Prudence mondaine [.]” (See Les Loix de la galanterie.)
The Chevalier de Méré, an aristocrat, contributed to the development of the salon,the birthplace of honnêteté and préciosité. Literature was the main activity of salonniers and salonnières but Mademoiselle de Scudéry‘s Clélie, histoire romaine, which contains the map of Tendre, a map of the country of love, has affinities with galanterie. I rather like Petits Soins (tender loving care) (seeCarte du Tendre).
L‘honnête homme avoided extreme views and he had a good jugement; he was not vain nor boastful, he was insightful, and he was polite, which at times precluded frankness. According to François de la Rochefoucauld, the moralist, “l’honnête homme ne se pique de rien[.]” L’honnête homme never boasts.
Among the dramatis personæ of Molière’s comedies are honnête gens (plural for honnête homme): such as Cléante in Le Tartuffe (1664 – 1669) and Philinte in Le Misanthrope.
In Molière’s Misanthrope, Philinte, who is an honnête homme, would not tell an aging Émilie, la vieille Émilie, that she uses makeup (le blanc) and behaves (faire la jolie) in a manner that does not suit an aging woman (I. i):
Quoi ! vous iriez dire à la vieille Émilie Qu’à son âge il sied mal de faire la jolie, Et que le blanc qu’elle a scandalise chacun ? (I. i)
What! would you tell old Emilie
that ’tis unbecoming at her age to play the pretty girl;
or that the paint she wears shocks every one? Le Misanthrope (I. 1)
The truth would hurt Émilie, which neither galanterie nor honnêteté would allow. If at all possible, one does not offend others in the name of frankness or “truth.”
In scene two, Oronte walks in with a copy of a poem he wishes to read to Alceste, the misanthrope. The poem is mediocre and, although he hesitates for the longest time, Alceste ends up saying that “Franchement, il [le poème] est bon à mettre au cabinet.” Frankly, it’s good for the garbage.) Cabinet is an ambiguous word. It can mean a drawer (cabinet making), but can also mean a toilet. Alceste is franc, but he is not civil. He is acting offensively in the name of sincerity or “honnêteté” in its literal sense.
The above are examples of the polemical nature of many of Molière’s plays. They could lead to debates. When it was first staged, in 1664, Le Tartuffe, whose protagonist feigns devotion and nearly ruins Orgon’s family, was not seen as falsely devout by Orgon and, given its subject matter, the play was banned. It took Molière five years to make Le Tartuffe acceptable.
L’École des femmes, 1719 edition (Wikipedia)
L’École des femmes (Google images)
Les Précieuses ridicules by Moreau le Jeune (Wikipedia)
Les Précieuses ridicules (Google images)
Similarly, Les Précieuses ridicules (18 November 1661; Petit-Bourbon) was not a depiction of préciosité, except for allusions, such as the use of a purer language. Magdelon and Cathos, who have just arrived in Paris, are besotted by préciosité and salons, but they have yet to set foot in a salon. Real précieuses and salonnières would know that Mascarille and Jodelet are not salonniers. They would not let themselves be courted and amused by the valets of Du Croisy and La Grange, the two suitable young men Magdelon and Cathos rejected. The Précieuses ridicules has the plot of a farce: le trompeur trompé (the deceiver deceived). The tables are turned on Magdelon and Cathos.
Yet, Molière was criticized for portraying Les Précieuses ridicules. In the Preface to Les Précieuses ridicules, he wrote that Magdelon and Cathos were false précieuses and that “Les plusexcellentes choses sont sujettes à être copiées par de mauvaissinges.” (The most excellent things are apt to be copied by bad monkeys.) Besides, comedies of manners are “miroirs publics.”
Molière wrote comédies-ballets, but he also wrote comedies featuring gentilshommes, aristocrats and gods: Dom Garcie de Navarre (comédie héroïque; 1661), La Princesse d’Élide (1664), Dom Juan (1665), Amphitryon(1668)… Moreover, as an actor, Molière was fond of playing roles in comédies-héroïques. Critic Paul Bénichou dispelled the commonly held view that Molière advocated bourgeois common sense.
Molière was a human being and humans dream of worlds that are or seem better than the world they inhabit. Aristocrats were privileged individuals. So Molière featured aristocrats in a few of his comedies. For Molière, theatre was at times the goal of theatre. He created a comforting spectacle, an illusion.
Molière neither served nor disserved the “querelle des femmes,” feminists. Moreover, if there is a galant in the comedies of Molière, it is the young man who courts a woman who loves him, but whose marriage to her is threatened by a blocking character. Molière’s honnête homme is Philinte (Le Misanthrope), Cléante (Le Tartuffe) and other figures often called the raisonneur. L’honnête homme does not vilify women.
In L’École des femmes (1662) (The School for Wives), Agnès, who has been raised by Arnolphe to be his faithful wife, falls in love with Horace, whom she sees through her window. She rejects Arnolphe saying that the way Arnolphe’s speaks of marriage makes it sound terrible. Horace, on the other hand, presents marriage as pleasurable, which makes her feel like marrying:
Chez vous le mariage est fâcheux et pénible, Et vos discours en font une image terrible; Mais, las ! il le fait, lui, si rempli de plaisirs, Que de se marier il donne des désirs. (V. iv)
With you, marriage is a trouble and a pain,
and your descriptions give a terrible picture of it;
but there — he makes it seem so full of joy
that I long to marry. (V. 4) The School for Wives (V. 4)
Horace is galant and earns Agnès’ love. In comedy, galanterie is conventional, the goal of comedy being the marriage of young lovers, which would not be possible if the young man were not galant (love). But, as noted above, it is not honnêteté, at least not altogether.
I apologize for the long delay. I couldn’t concentrate due to a bout of mental fatigue and difficulties in gathering recent articles and books. I require these to write my book on Molière. All is not lost. I have contacted a number of sources and have used Jstor for several years, as a private scholar. Would that I still lived across the street from a library. However, when I quote 17th-century authors whose work I do not own, I use Internet Archives, the Project Gutenberg, and Google e-books. These e-books are seldom edited or annotated, but they are immensely useful tools.
 Charles Sorel wrote La Vraie Histoire comique de Francion, in the hope of dealing a blow to Honoré d’Urfé‘s pastoral romances. La Vraie Histoire comique de Francion (1623) was a success, but Honoré d’Urfé’s L’Astrée remained popular. However, Le Berger extravagant (1627-1628) did tarnish pastoral romances, or very long novels featuring shepherds and shepherdesses. (See Charles Sorel, Wikipedia.)
 Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris : Gallimard, 1948), p. 263.
Le Ballet comique de la Reine(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673), born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, spent several years performing outside Paris. His first troupe, l’Illustre Théâtre, established in 1643, went bankrupt and, in 1645, Molière was imprisoned. He had to leave for the provinces.
Les Précieuses ridicules, a one-act play which premièred on 18 November 1659, was Molière’s first Parisian success and he would produce several other plays, about thirty-four, eleven of which were comédies-ballets, ten with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and one, with music by Charpentier. However, preceding the comédie-ballet, was the ballet de cour.
Louise was married to Henri III of France, a son a Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici, who was assassinated by Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic. As for Anne de Joyeuse (1561 – 1687), he perished at the hands of French Calvinist Protestants, called Huguenots, 800 of whom he had slaughtered. In fact, the French wars of religion are the backdrop to the creation of the ballet de cour.
Daniel Rabel: the “grotesque” in the ballet de cour
Daniel Rabel (1578 – 3 January 1637) was a man of many talents. Wikipedia describes Rabel as “a Renaissance French painter, engraver, miniaturist, botanist and natural history illustrator.” As a painter, Rabel produced grotesque depictions of ballet, but beginning in 1617 until his death in 1637, Rabel was a set designer for theatres and for ballets de cour.
In our context the term grotesque (from grotto) is not pejorative. The ‘grotesque’ is an aesthetics as is the ‘baroque.’ Medieval gargoyles and misericords are acceptably ‘grotesques.’ Beverly Minster, a 12th-century cathedral, has a fine collection of grotesque misericords. In the 19th century, Hugo would revive the grotesque. His 1831 novel, Notre-Dame de Paris features Quasimodo, a hunchback. The “grotesque” is associated with the Middle Ages and the 19th century.
Le Roi danse
“Les Fées de la forêt de Saint-Germain” was danced at the Louvre in February 1625, with Louis XIII himself in the role of a “valiant fighter.” (See Daniel Rabel, Wikipedia.) Louis XIII also danced in the ballet he composed, the Ballet de la Merlaison.
You may remember that Louis XIII, the Sun-King’s father, wrote the Ballet de la Merlaison. Louis XIII was a composer and he composed a ballet. Consequently, the creation of ballet is associated with both Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV. However, Louis XIII’s Ballet de la Merlaison is a ballet de cour as had been Circé ou le Balet Comique de la Royne. As noted above, Louis XIII performed in the ballet he composed.
Other ballets de cour were performed before 1661, when Molière created Les Fâcheux, (the Bores), to music byLully. King Louis XIII, the Sun-King’s father (Louis XIV), was a composer and, as noted above, he played a role in “Les Fées de la forêt de Saint-Germain.” Louis XIII composed the Ballet delaMerlaison, a ballet de cour.
Le Ballet de la Merlaison by Maurice Leloir, in Dumas père’s The Three Musketeers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme: comédie ballet and “play-within-a-play”
For a long time, little attention was given Molière’s contribution to ballet, and my book, if ever it is published, will not improve matters as I will discuss only one comédie-ballet: George Dandin (1668). However, one cannot ignore Le Bourgeois gentihomme (14 November 1670), where the ballet is both entertainment and a play-within-a play. Monsieur Jourdain is deceived into marrying his daughter Lucile to Cléonte who has disguised himself into the son of the Mufti, le grand Turc. This is a case of comedy rescuing comedy.
Molière wrote the text of his comédies-ballets, and the text may be read independently of the divertissements, for which he also wrote the text. However, these ballets inject laughter into Molière’s comedies several of which are somber works. The ballets are, to a large extent, part of the comic text.
Except for The Imaginary Invalid (1673), the music of Molière’s comédies-ballets was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully, born Giovanni Battista Lulli. Pierre Beauchamp (30 October 1631 – February 1705) was Molière’s choreographer.
All three, Molière (playwright), Lully (composer and dancer) and Pierre Beauchamp (choreographer), are major figures in their respective profession and Molière’s comédie-ballet a significant step in the creation of ballet. Lully was named director of AcadémieRoyale deMusique in 1669 and worked with Philippe Quinault, his librettist. The AcadémieRoyale de Musique developed into the Paris Opéra and the smaller Opéra Garnier. Since 1989, performances have been held at the 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille.
Several ballets de cour and the related comédies-ballets were staged. It would seem that VoltaireLa Princesse de Navarre (1745) is that last comédie-ballet. It was performed to music by Jean-Philippe Rameau (25 September 1683 – 12 September 1764). (See Comédie-ballet, Wikipedia.)
We close with Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, which was not an opera but a turning-point in the history of ballet in the galant style. Specialists were now developing ballet.
Les Fâcheux (The Bores) the first comédie-ballet (1661)
Molière wrote eleven comédies-ballets, the first of which was Les Fâcheux (The Bores), created by Molière and Lully and performed at Vaux-le-Vicomte, Nicolas Fouquet’s magnificent castle. Fouquet invited a newly-crowned king Louis XIV to a lavish feast at Vaux, which took place on 17 August 1661, but Louis grew jealous. We have read that story. Louis XIV used ballets to cultivate the image of the Sun-King. Therefore, to a certain extent, ballet was put into the service of absolutism.
Portrait of Pietro Bembo by Giovanni Bellini (British Royal Collection)
I explored the British Royal Collection and learned that in 1940, it was suggested that the above portrait, by Giovanni Bellini, was a portrait of Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – 11 or 18 January 1547). It is a suggestion, which means that there is an element of doubt. The facial features of the Royal Collection’s Pietro Bembo bear a resemblance to Raphael’s portrait, but Raphael’s portrait of Pietro Bembo (c. 1506), shows a dark-haired Pietro Bembo.
I know of Pietro Bembo from my days as a student of musicology. He is associated with the development of polyphony (many voices) through the madrigal (songs in the mother tongue, as in the Spanish madre), secular songs. However, Pietro Bembo was a writer, not a musician.
As the popularity of madrigals waned, Louis XIV, who loved to dance and was a dancer, hired Italian-born Jean-Baptiste Lully, or Giovanni Battista Lulli, a composer and dancer. When Molière returned to Paris after spending several years touring France, his Précieuses ridicules (18 November 1659) impressed the court.
I have yet to order my new computer, but when it arrives, we will again be in Italy briefly. Molière created the comédie-ballet.Les Fâcheux was performed at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Molière wrote the text and Lulli, the music. The ballet accompanying Les Fâcheux (The Bores) was choreographed was Pierre Beauchamp.
A few years ago, I wrote a post on Vaux-le-Vicomte and, in partiular the feast hosted by Nicolas Fouquet on 17 August 1661, perhaps the most lavish fête in the history of France. Louis XIV had just become king of France. Louis was so impressed that during the fête itself, he decided to destroy Fouquet, or Foucquet. The video I used has been removed and I have yet to find a video that matches the former video.
Le Roi danse(Photo credit: Google Images)
Would that Giovanni Bellini had given a name to the persons whose portrait he painted. He entitled many of his portraits as Portrait of a Young Man or Portrait of a Man.
I have a new post, I hope to publish today. It is about ballet. Molière created the comédie-ballet in 1661. He created a total of 11.
With kind regards to all of you.♥
The video shown below is an excerpt from a film entitled Le Roi danse.
All I can send you today are these images by Leo Rauth (1884 – 1913). They feature dancers one of whom is American modern dance “pioneer” (Wikipedia), Ruth St. Denis (20 January 1879 – 21 July 1968), shown above performing a “snake dance,” without the snake. They also feature la Belle Otéro (4 November 1868 – 12 April 1965). (Wikipedia)
Leo Rauth also designed rather “poetical” clothes.
Les Indes galantes features Amerindians, which makes it a unique opéra-ballet. An opéra-ballet is of course different from a tragédie lyrique or French lyric tragedy. Yet, LesIndes galantes bring to mind comedy rather than tragedy. It is, nevertheless, an example of music originating in Italy and brought to France by Lully who created French lyric tragedy, music in the “grand manner.”
The libretto can be read at the following site: Les Indes galantes. The main divisions are Entrées. These are our four acts and include conversations and airs (arias), such as the Air pour les esclaves africains.
You will note that there are two prologues. There should be one only. I thought it was best to include both. Some airs are perhaps missing, but they can be found on YouTube, sung separately, but the following videos is as complete a performance as I could assemble.
Daniel Rabel, Jean’s son, was therefore brought up in the best of French intellectual circles, but he did not become a Hellenist, a Greek scholar. Nor did he become a poet. He chose instead to walk in his father’s footsteps, but, as we will see, not entirely. He was a painter, an engraver, a miniaturist and a decorator. As well, following once more in his father’s footsteps, Daniel Rabel was a court artist.
But he was different from his father, because he was:
Until the invention of photography, artists were often asked to make a miniature painting or drawing of a fiancée, a daughter, a wife, a husband. Among other miniatures, Daniel was commissioned to make a miniature portrait of Henri III’s fiancée, Anne of Austria (1601 – 1660), which benefitted his career. In 1612, he became the official artist of the duc de Nevers,Charles de Gonzague.
Daniel Rabel also painted landscapes (oil paintings) and hunting scenes. However, on the sole merit of his two paintings of the Ballet de la douairière de Bilbao, housed in theLouvre Museum, Rabel would be considered an important artist influenced by the Grotesque fashion which has its counterpart in French poetry.
However, by 1618, Daniel Rabel had settled in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where he painted his Suite de fleurs (1624). Rabel works, including his plates, are housed in the print room, the Cabinet des estampes, of the National Library of France, laBNF (Bibliothèque nationale de France.) The two paintings (shown above) of the Ballet de la douairière de Bilbao are kept in the Louvre.
In other words, as of 1617 until his death, Rabel was a designer for theatres and for ballets de cour. He was engaged in stagecraft.[i] He designed costumes for ballets (costumes de ballet). Two of these ballets are:
Les Fées de la forêt de Saint-Germain
Grand Ballet de la douairière de Billebahaut (Bilbao) 1626.
I am including two related blogs, but posts dealing with the flamenco are not listed. The picture at the head of this post shows a bal masqué, a masquerade bal. It is an example of the “grotesque” style.
We have therefore introduced a new element, the grotesque and, in particular, Daniel Rabel’s grotesque depictions of the bal or the ballet. When Daniel Rabel was designing costumes and involved in stagecraft, there were several “grotesque” poets. However, 17th-century grotesque was a brief phenomenon. The “grotesque” is usually associated with the 19th century and the Middle Ages.
A good example of the grotesque is Victor Hugo‘s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame of (Notre-Dame de Paris), published in 1831. Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885)wanted to challenge a restrictice notion of beauty and created Quasimodo, a character most would consider repulsive. Esmeralda loves the hunchback despite his looks. Remember that, in Beauty and the Beast, Beauty accepts to marry Beast when he is still Beast. She can see beneath the surface.
Other writers of the nineteenth century in France also felt there were different forms of beauty. For instance, when Charles Baudelaire (9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) published his Fleurs du Mal(The Flowers of Evil) in 1857, he was also questioning a narrow perception of beauty.
After writing about the Duc de Joyeuse who slaughtered Huguenots, it may be a good idea to look at absolutism. In France, absolutism meant: one king, one language, one religion. It was achieved at a cost that makes absolutism a Pyrrhic victory. Chasing away the Huguenots deprived France and New France of citizens who, by and large, were an asset to their community and would be asset to the countries to which they fled.
Yet, as the Wars of Religion took their toll, courtiers danced. Jean-Baptiste Lully composed ballets de cour, but composers also wroteSuites, mostly dances. JS Bach‘s English Suites, French Suites and his Partitas (for the keyboard) are a good example of the union of rythme and melody, but his suites were not the galant music composed by his sons, the eldest, Wilhelm Friedemann and Johann Christian.
The image at the top of this post features a grotesque ballet de cour. The grotesque flourished in the late years of the 16th century and the early years of the 17th century in France, showing a distorted form of beauty perhaps consistent with the pity of the wars of religions. The gargoyles of medieval cathedrals reflect a related duality.
Daniel Rabel was a 16th-century French court artist during the French religious wars. For several years he was a set and costume designer for nascent ballets de cour which he somehow ridiculed through grotesque depictions that can be associated with comedy.
But let us listen to a menuet by Luigi Boccherini. The menuet, or minuet, is a triple–meter dance (1–2–3 ; 1–2–3), perfect for a bal at court. The Waltz also has a triple meter: 1–2–3. As we know, Louis XIII wrote a ballet de cour, the Ballet de Merlaison, dance music. I do not know if Louis XIII’s music has already been entered into one of the official periods of music. I would surmise it is Baroque music. However, the Ballet de la Merlaison has been revived and was performed in May 2012, in Compiègne. But let us discuss Boccherini, whose music is delightful.