I am back at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Marine. Only this time the museum is closed. The municipal library will open at two. And I am a little early. Ten minutes to be exact. But as I always say, if I am not ten minutes early, I have an impression of being ten minutes late, especially when I have an appointment. And I have an appointment. I ring the bell and pretty soon the door woman wants to know who disturbs her slumber. I give her my name, and she lets me in, then after a phone-call confirming the arrangements, she waves with her finger in the direction of the coffee machine telling me to wait there. I don’t drink coffee. I just wait.
Madame Mesonier, the curator of the Museum, comes out to let me inside the door whose existence I have been ignoring for over a year. We walk up the stairs and into a small room where a large black case is waiting for me on the desk. Madame Mesonier dons a pair of latex gloves and unlocks it. Whey! I knew they were fragile, but this is XVIII-century fragile. Then I think that whoever has done this damage must have meant it. This is no accident: The nose is sliced off with a firm and practiced hand. Must be for restoration.
Undoubtedly the wax head represents an inhabitant of the New World. Did His Majesty want to meet His colonial subjects? We know that occasionally some of them did come in person, and there is even one source reporting that Louis XV would not let Mary Leszczinska meet the Indians because they were not decent. So, they were here at Versailles, although the heads could have been modeled somewhere in Louisiana or Quebec and then introduced to the Court to educate the princes. There used to be six or seven of them. The first one above is at the Chateau. There are two more at the Musée Quai Branly. Those I have not seen. What brought me here is their eyes. Blue. And then this fellow’s features. They seem to be Caucasian. What does it mean? Have they run out of color? Or are these some early records of what today we call genetics?