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Carmontelle's Portraits of Musicians

Abstract : Scholars studying Carmontelle in recent years have concentrated in particular on his “garden of illusions”. But what did its visitors hear? How did they enjoy the garden for their musical entertainment? Carmontelle himself supplies us with clues. His portraits of musicians—some sixty in all—help us to envision the soundscape of the Jardin de Monceau (and those of other Parisian gardens). A good half of the musicians he portrayed are depicted near an arcade opening onto a park; approximately ten are placed on a terrace giving onto trees; and another ten or so are found at the edge or in the middle of gardens or, far less often, in forests. Only three are shown in interiors. Four of these musicians were composers (Jean-Philippe Rameau ; Egidio Duni, Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny, Josef Kohaut), three were professional performers shown in isolation (Sophie Arnould, Marie-Jeanne Fesch called Mlle Chevalier, Regina Valentini Mingotti), eleven were professionals portrayed in groups of various sizes (Mozart family, the three daughters of Jean-Nicolas Pancrace Royer, Jean-Pierre Duport with Ignace Prover, Pierre Vachon and Jean-Aimé Vernier), and the remainder—the vast majority—were amateurs playing first of all harpsichord, pedal harp, violin, guitar, but also cittern, quinton, hurdy-gurdy, musette, hunting horn, pipe and tambourine of Provence. Also, many instruments are absent in Carmontelle’s portraits of musicians: chamber organ, clarinet, bassoon, and serpent; trumpet, trombone, and double bass; timpani and military drums; triangle and cymbals. These lacunae reflect the fact that music was exclusively an amusement among high society; Carmontelle displayed an undeniable bias towards the favorite instruments of the aristocracy. As his portraits suggest, the extent to which music and musicians contributed to the activities in the Orléans family residences cannot be doubted. To the magic of the garden scenes he drew, a fourth dimension should be added— the sonorous music that filled them.
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  • HAL Id : halshs-03092835, version 1

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Florence Gétreau. Carmontelle's Portraits of Musicians. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers ; Joseph Disponzio. Carmontelle, Garden at Monceau, Foundation for Landscape Studies ; Oak Spring Garden Foundation ; Yale University Press, pp.110-125 ; 172-173., 2020, 978-0-300-25468-6. ⟨halshs-03092835⟩

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