Friday, July 1, 2022

All Wrong, but So Right

Engraving of fireworks at Versailles
This is silly. This book is 100 years too old, it was created to honor a monarch, it is from France, and it was owned by a member of the British court, "Henry Duke of Kent." So why pull it out on Independence Day? Well, fireworks!

Les plaisirs de l’Isle enchantée: Course de bague; collation ornée de machines; comedie, meslée de danse et de musique; ballet du palais d’Alcine, feu d’artifice: et autres festes galantes et magnifiques (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1673) is a pretty amazing book. Commissioned in 1673 to document a lavish celebration of Louis XIV at Versailles, it depicts food, parties, elaborate spectacles like papier-mache sea monsters in the pools, and even the staging of one of Moliere's plays. It has all the trappings of royal extravagance and excess, and has nothing to do with a colonial rebellion. We could say featuring it this week on the blog is some kind of subtle indictment of American complacency and decadence (a party is a party), or perhaps just another example of our willingness to appropriate anything, but really, we are just into the imagery and it put us in the mood for a Fourth of July barbecue and day in the park.

Engraving of fireworks at VersaillesEngraving of sea monsters at Versaille

Engraving of fireworks at VersaillesEngraving of banquet table at Versailles

To see the book (it is so worth your time), ask for PQ1840.P2 1673.