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Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


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Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


An epistolary exchange between Mlle de Guise and the secretary of Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Florence

In the Archivio di Stato of Florence I happened upon two volumes containing the correspondence of Carlo Antonio Gondi, secretary to Duke Cosimo. While serving as the Duke's resident in Paris during the 1670s, Gondi had become quite close to Mlle de Guise. The following "fugitive pieces" provide rare insights into the warmth that  could creep into Mlle de Guise's interactions with her social inferiors. One particularly interesting exchange involves a search for paintings for Mlle de Guise's galerie.

Med. del Prin 4783, letters to Gondi from "Diversi" in France, 1682-1686:

On 2 June 1683 Mlle de Guise asked for help in obtaining the requisite papal bulls for the new young woman who was to succeed her late sister as abbess of Montmartre. (By 6 August the bulls had still not been not issued....):

The following undated letter from Mlle de Guise, written shortly after Gondi’s departure from France, shows how well she knew not only the former Resident in Paris, but also the Medicis who had protected her during the Guises' exile in Florence:

In the late fall of 1682, Mlle de Guise spoke of her sorrow about the death of her dear sister, the Abbess of Montmartre:

Mlle de Guise asks Gondi to find some paintings for her gallery

A handful of letters exchanged by Mlle de Guise and the Medicis’ former resident in Paris sheds light on the princess’s esthetic preoccupations, and above all how Italian paintings could find their way to France.

The request for two paintings apparently reached Gondi indirectly. On 15 August 1684 he wrote Mlle de Guise:

Mlle de Guise replied on 15 December 1684:

On 12 January 1685, Mlle de Guise not only provided more information about the sort of painting she wanted, she expressed her affection for Gondi. The Lillebonne princesses about whom she writes are members of the House of Lorraine. Three years later, Mlle de Guise scheme to disinherit the Grande Mademoiselle will would hinge upon a legacy to them. (See my "Mademoiselle de Guise, ou les défis de la quenouille," XVIIe Siècle, 37 [1984], pp. 221-231):

Gondi replied on 20 February. He had talked with the Grand Duke, who said he would keep the discussion about a possible marriage secret, but that he did not know what he could do. Modena had asked for the princess's hand 5 years ago, but she was too young. Now it may come onto the "tapis" again, so will Mlle de Guise please keep it secret? Melani, Gondi’s "ami intime," was now in charge of Modena affairs

On 16 March 1685, Mlle de Guise thanked Gondi for his letter:

Gondi and the princess exchanged New Year's greetings in December 1685 and January 1686. Then, in September and October 1686, when Gondi is ill, Mlle de Guise wished him well.

A year later, on 28 (or 18?) December 1686, she wrote Gondi again and informed him that she had found some paintings on her own:

Shortly after that, on 31 December, Gondi wishes her a happy New Year: "... et que mes souhaits ne se bornent point pendant le cours de ladite année puisqu'ils renferment en eux la vaste estendue d'une infinité d'autres apres."

(4785) 1687-1689, another busta of letters to Gondi from "Diversi," and that contains the minutes of his replies.

On 1 February 1687 Gondi answered Mlle de Guise’s letter of December 18 (28?), 1686:

Then, on 7 November 1687, Gondi again wrote her, apparently on behalf of a grateful Florentine woman (the minute is marked, upper left: "Pour Mad. La princesse"). This minute suggests that gift-giving between the Hôtel de Guise and the Medicis of Florence (frequently mentioned in letters of the 1660s) had continued into the late 1680s – and that M. Du Bois’s request for Mazzaferrata’s music and his dispatching of materials about conversions (including a libretto for the Medici musicians), were not exceptions:

"Il faut que je vous advoue mon embaras auquel ma confusion m'a plongée me voyant depourveue d'expressions asses capables à bien expliquer à proportion tout ce dont je vous suis infiniment redevable. La juppe et le manteau dont vous aves eu la bonté de m'honnorer avec les coiffes et les rubans sont si beaux, si magnifiques et si bien...." etc...