Smoking at Versailles


P1016717 (FILEminimizer)

“A Smoking Party” was a common XVII century pass-time; yet the presence of a sleeping figure in the center of the composition begs a question about the contents of those pipes; and since any kind of vapor may represent a dream; this seems only to confirm the interpretation according to which we observe the adverse effects of tobacco on the human brain. Yet this interpretation doesn’t hold water; and I must address the moralist content of the painting; for in the XVII century all social criticism was essentially religious, and therefore, the anti-smoking stance could not have been related to health issues, but would rather have to be linked to an already well-established sin, in this case idleness, and therefore condemned as a form of hedonism.

And by the way, at Chateau Versailles the Big Apartments were officially declared a non-smoking area; and so, those courtiers who needed a smoke break (for example, Saint-Simon) would have to sneak out to their cold and lonely rooms, which of course didn’t help their relationship with the anti-smoking Sun King.

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About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
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