Cabinet de Morine

Témoignage de John Evelyn (1644)

The next day I was car­ried to see a French gentleman’s curious col­lec­tion, which aboun­ded in fair and rich jewels of all sorts of pre­cious stones, most of them of great sizes and value ; agates and onyxes, some of them admi­ra­bly colou­red and antique ; nor infe­rior were his land­scapes from the best hands, most of which he had cau­sed to be copied in minia­ture ; one of which, rare­ly pain­ted on stone, was bro­ken by one of our com­pa­ny, by the mischance of set­ting it up ; but such was the tem­per and civi­li­ty of the gent­le­man, that it alte­red nothing of his free and noble humour.

The next mor­ning, I was had by a friend to the gar­den of Mon­sieur Morine, who, from being an ordi­na­ry gar­de­ner, is become one of the most skil­ful and curious per­sons in France for his rare col­lec­tion of shells, flo­wers, and insects.

His gar­den is of an exact oval figure, plan­ted with cypress, cut flat and set as even as a wall : the tulips, ane­mones, ranun­cu­luses, cro­cuses, &c., are held to be of the rarest, and draw all the admi­rers of that kind to his house during the sea­son. He lived in a kind of her­mi­tage at one side of his gar­den, where his col­lec­tion of por­ce­lain and coral, whe­reof one is car­ved into a large cru­ci­fix, is much estee­med. He has also books of prints, by Albert [Durer], Van Ley­den, Cal­lot, &c. His col­lec­tion of all sorts of insects, espe­cial­ly of but­ter­flies, is most curious ; these he spreads and so medi­cates, that no cor­rup­tion inva­ding them, he keeps them in dra­wers, so pla­ced as to represent a beau­ti­ful piece of tapes­try.

He sho­wed me the remarks he had made on their pro­pa­ga­tion, which he pro­mi­sed to publish. Some of these, as also of his best flo­wers, he had cau­sed to be pain­ted in minia­ture by rare hands, and some in oil.

(The dia­ry of John Eve­lyn, Ed. William Bray, J.M. DENT et E.P DULTON, Lon­don-New York, 1905, Tome 1, p.66–67.)