The Louisquatorze

that, at more than one epoch, the cultivation of the Beautiful was the most lavishly generous, and therefore bore the richest fruit, under the most immoral influences. How, indeed, does the development of the " Louis-Quatorze " and, for the matter of that, the development of all the French art of those days stand when regarded in this light ? Was it, for example, for the lawful cjueens of the sovereigns of France that the greatest poets, painters, musicians, and artists of every class and kind vied one with another to produce masterpiece after masterpiece, or was it for the Vallières, Maintenons, Du Barrys, and the like ? Can there be any two opinions in the matter ? The lawful wives were bound to their sovereigns by the strongest legal ties, but the good graces of the "left-hand queens" were only to be won and retained by the most lavish gifts, and the tireless studying and satisfying of their whims and fancies. Is it not much to be feared that the truly wedded spouse had often, metaphorically, to rest content with Sully Prudhomme's " verre épaissewhile the usurper of her rightful position held her court amidst untold magnificence ; was fawned upon and flattered by the highest in the land, whose favour at court often depended upon their paying such homage, whether it was to their taste or not ; and enjoyed her draughts, while her sway lasted, from the "goblet de cristar ? So at least it is recorded, and we must accept the facts as they are presented to us. These French monarchs were constantly striving to surround the objects of their choice with every comfort and luxury ; and among those who benefited thereby the furnisher naturally figured prominently, for was it not by him that the surroundings of the royal favourites had to be rendered beautiful ?

An interesting point in relation to this aspect of affairs has been emphasised by Lady Dilke. I refer to the great contrast between the rare taste almost invariably displayed of old in the artistic gems created in honour of those who were queens by favour, and the taste of those designed as gifts for even

0 0

Post a comment