The Hour of Death
Attributed to Baron Dominique Vivant Denon, French, 1747 - 1825. After Ferdinand Bol, Dutch (active Amsterdam), 1616 - 1680. After work formerly attributed to Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Dutch (active Leiden and Amsterdam), 1606 - 1669.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Re-watched Charles II: The Power & the Passion.
There’s this scene (shot in French with english hardsubs, kudos for that) set in 1670, where Princess Henrietta begs Monsieur, her husband, to let her go to England in order to arrange with her brother, King Charles II, what would soon be known as the Secret Treaty of Dover.For some weird reason, I had erased this scene from my mind and now I realize why.
I was totally like (# ﾟДﾟ)つNOOOO why are you portraying Monsieur in the worst possible light?
It’s a fact; Philippe would not allow Henrietta to go to England and even made complaints to the English King, insisting that his wife remained by his side—the one that was not already occupied by Chevalier de Lorraine; ahem.
But it’s sad to think that Philippe could be for real so mean, offensive and abusive towards his wife.
In "Vicomte de Bragelonne", Philippe is portrayed as a cute, happy, easygoing yet light-headed and vain 19-year-old gay boy who likes gossiping with his new boyfriend about everyone and everything , is jealous of his new wife’s popularity among courtiers and can’t stand the idea that one of his former lovers flirts with her.But he’s not a malignant wuss like his friends, de Lorraine and de Vardes, or a potential rapist.Too bad that all those years of unhappy marriage could possibly turn him into an actual asshole.And Madame—well, to me, she wasn’t the most well-intentioned character in the book and she’s rather giddy, selfish and snotty.In this series however, she’s constantly punished for her flirtations with her husband’s brother and ex-lover, is humiliated for their most unfortunate children, she’s so weak and affectionate and asthenic that I ended up feeling so sorry for her ( ´_υ｀). In the same manner, in the epilogue of The Man In The Iron Mask, Henrietta’s unhappiness is pretty obvious to the readers: having been deprived of her friend/lover, she asks the King to send de Lorraine away from Court as she considers him a great threat for her own life.Well, in this case, Dumas’ literature did not deviate from History that much.
So, that second picture: the costumes, the powdered wigs, the make-up, the gestures, the extraordinarily successful casting for de Lorraine and his uncovered chest, the wicked smiles and GAWD, that punchline.This is so wrong and disturbing
that from an artistic point of view, it ends up being almost brilliant.
And that "not in front of him" was so ;(
This portrayal of Monsieur makes me so sad. I hope no one sees this series and thinks he was actually that awful. He was a sweetheart who just needed to learn to control his jealousy a little better! I wonder if BBC was playing on that age old England vs. France rivalry, like “let’s make all the less well known British people innocent and/or relatable and make all the French people evil and pompous!” Just one glance at that wig they chose for Monsieur and one can tell that not much effort was put in to portraying him correctly.
I think we need to make things very clear about Monsieur’s position here.
I totally agree that the scene is far too violent for such a figure as Philippe d’Orléans. Despite his taste for men, Philippe has a very profound respect for women. I mean, his love for his mother was unreal, his affection for his cousin la Grande Mademoiselle was tricked but also true, same thing for his friendship with Montespan or later de Sourche and Grancey, or even la Palatine. Why would he dress like them if not ? He knew too many strong women not to hate them. Plus the fact that he is TOTALLY aware of the importance of ranks and he will never forget that his wife was the beloved younger sister of Charles II of England. He wouldn’t try to be so harsh with her and risk a diplomatic accident with his English cousin (and piss off Louis who still had affection for his sister-in-law even after their little romance). So yes, this scene is far too violent for what he was and thought.
Nevertheless we should never forget the rivalry between those two and especially the role played by Armand de Gramont in Henriette and Philippe’s relation. Armand de Guise was, before Lorraine, the great love of Monsieur. Without Armand’s fall Lorraine could have waited a while before taking his place (but I think Armand would have made an mistake anyway he was too silly). ANYWAY do you realise that in Monsieur’s position, Henriette has stolen from him the man he was deeply in love with, and furthermore was being mocked by them ? I mean it is obvious that Philippe (despite Dumas’ writing) didn’t care about Louis and Henriette’s affair, it only concerned Anne d’Autriche. But Gramont ?
So there you are, a frustrated Prince, who can’t avenge himself publicly because of his wife’s position and relatives. What can he do ? The only legitimate thing that no one could ever say he hasn’t the right to do it : making his wife pregnant. Philippe had the mind of a courtier. He was aware that Henriette was fragile, plus the known and established fact that being pregnant and give birth at this time was ALWAYS a mortal danger. Philippe wanted to fade her beauty, which she was so proud of, prevent her to go to England the only way he could (because his brother-in-law refused him to come). He wasn’t nice or perfect, he was a wounded man who only wanted to make his point : you’ve taken my Armand, you’ll pay. It’s vile, and vicious, and wicked. It’s human. In short : yes, Monsieur was an asshole. Now Henriette wasn’t pure either (taking Gramont was a foolish idea girl) far from that, and she gave back to Monsieur in public what he was doing with her in private. She couldn’t refuse his authority as a husband and only accept him, because a husband never rape his wife, he only use his right as a husband. It’s not impossible that some time he may had been harsh (because no love, because he wanted to do it quick, because he was angry or whatev, so without thinking about her pleasure obviously), that he may have forced her also if she was reluctant. But I really don’t think with this much violence and in such a humiliating position.
Anne of Denmark, Queen of England in 1619
Portrait of Mary, the artist’s daughter in 17th century Spanish costume by Franz Stuck