Cabinet de Liancourt (comte)

Témoignage du voyageur anglais John Evelyn (1644)

[1644] Ist March. I went to see the Count de Liancourt’s Palace in the Rue de Seine, which is well built. Towards his stu­dy and bed­cham­ber joins a lit­tle gar­den, which, though very nar­row, by the addi­tion of a well-pain­ted pers­pec­tive, is to appea­rance great­ly enlar­ged ; to this there is ano­ther part, sup­por­ted by arches in which runs a stream of water, rising in the avia­ry, out of a sta­tue, and see­ming to flow for some miles, by being arti­fi­cial­ly conti­nued in the pain­ting, when it sinks down at the wall. It is a very agreeable deceit. At the end of this gar­den, is a lit­tle theatre, made to change with divers pret­ty scenes, and the stage so orde­red, with figures of men and women pain­ted on light boards, and cut out, and, by a per­son who stands under­neath, made to act as if they were spea­king, by gui­ding them, and reci­ting words in dif­ferent tones, as the parts require. We were led into a round cabi­net, where was a neat inven­tion for reflec­ting lights, by lining divers sconces with thin shi­ning plates of gil­ded cop­per.

In one of the rooms of state was an excellent pain­ting of Pous­sin, being a Satyr knel­ling ; over the chim­ney, the Coro­na­tion of the Vir­gin, by Pau­lo Vero­nese ; ano­ther Madon­na over the door, and that of Joseph, by Ciga­li ; in the Hall, a Cava­lie­ro di Mal­ta, atten­ded by his page, said to be a Michael Ange­lo ; the Rape of Pro­ser­pine, with a very large land­scape of Cor­reg­gio. In the next room, are some pain­tings of Pri­ma­tic­cio, espe­cial­ly the Hele­na, the naked Lady brought before Alexan­der, well-pain­ted, and a Ceres. In the bed-cham­ber a pic­ture of the Car­di­nal de Lian­court, of Raphael, rare­ly colou­red. In the cabi­net are divers pieces of Bas­sa­no, two of Polem­burg, four of Pau­lo Brill, the skies a lit­tle too blue. A Madon­na of Nicho­lao, excel­lent­ly pain­ted on a stone ; a Judith of Man­te­gna ; three women of Jero­ni­mo ; one of Sten­wick ; a Madon­na after Titian, and a Mag­da­len of the same hand, as the Count esteems it : two small pieces of Pau­lo Vero­nese, being the Mar­tyr­doms of St. Jus­ti­na and St. Cathe­rine ; a Madon­na of Lucas Van Ley­den, sent him from our King ; six more of old Bas­sa­no ; two excellent dra­wings of Albert [Durer] ; a Mag­da­len of Leo­nar­do da Vin­ci, given him also by our King ; the Ecce Homo, shut up in a frame of vel­vet, for the life and accu­rate fini­shing excee­ding all des­crip­tion. Some curious agates, and a cha­plet of admi­rable inven­tion, the inta­glios being all on fruit stones. The Count was so excee­ding civil, that he would needs make his lady go out of her dres­sing-room, that he might show us the curio­si­ties and pic­tures in it.

(The dia­ry of John Eve­lyn, Ed. William Bray, J.M. DENT et E.P DULTON, Lon­don-New York, 1905, Tome 1, p.56–57.)