The Virtues of Sin


If we were to come up with any kind of a profession for Louis XV, it would probably be an agronomer — all his life the king was so heavily involved with the life sciences, especially botany. We should remember the research he had sponsored at the Jardin de Plantes and the state-of-the-art greenhouses he had erected at the Petit Trianon — the greenhouses were later destroyed by Marie-Antoinette; His Majesty’s mascot was If  — the anthropomorphic version of Cyprus tree cut into a vertical sequence of pyramid, cube and sphere; and his patron saint was Vertumnus — the Etruscan god of gardens; but the other thing to remember is that ever since the seventeenth century a garland of flours painted around someone meant a collection of virtues; or as some people joked in case of Louis XV and his porcelain portrait — virtues in the service of sin.

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