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.)