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.)