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Les Singeries,

Nicole Garnier-Pelle

«Stop your monkey business!» is said vulgarly in French –and other languages. In the XVIIIth century, it was the contrary, since they were the big hit and more than one boudoir had its walls covered by them. To be fair, it must be said that monkeys were a totally different story: an ensemble of paintings in which male and female monkeys usually played the role of men. This book represents the most beautiful savaged ensemble that has just been restored with the help of the World Monuments Fund. It is in the castle of Chantilly, divided in two apartments: one Large Monkey Cage and one Small Monkey Cage. There we see the animal that is closest to man representing the wise man, the schoolteacher or the sculptor. A socialite in a muslin dress takes of her red slippers to slip into her bath, another has her claws filed down in front of the mirror. A huntsman presents the foot of an animal killed during a hunt, a curser rushes with his package under his arm. They resemble us and make us laugh … The resurrection of this cycle by Christophe Huet, done between 1735 and 1737, consoles us in part for the loss of the masterpiece in this genre, done by Watteau at the castle of la Muette.

• Les Singeries, par Nicole Garnier-Pelle, éditions Nicolas Chaudun, 2008, 100 p., 15 €, ISBN : 978-2-35039-063-5

Les Singeries, - Nicole Garnier-Pelle

Review published in the newsletter #117 - from 22 January 2009 to 28 January 2009

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