I am continually asked by readers for photographic accompaniment to the veiled snippets of autobiography I present here on Open Salon. To that aim, and in order to salvage the visual record from decrepitude, I submit the following selections from family photo albums unearthed several months ago at Libellules — my childhood home on the outskirts of Paris.
A perusal of daguerrotypes, cartes de visite, antique walnut stereoscopes and polaroids released many a memory from the festering lockbox of the mind, which I propose to share with you now.
The series, A Life in Pictures, will be presented in installments.
Part One: Childhood.
Myself in a baby carriage. c. 1887
The nimble handmade lace which adorns the parapluie
fascinates me, especially when I learn it has come
from a convent in le Puy. As an infant,
I adore detail work.
Maison des Libellules, on the
outskirts of Paris. c. 1880
The governess, Mlle Auchon. 1890
I admired everything about her.
In La Ville-Lumière there lived a maid,
Who once was a governess,
For one great day in a humble life,
She thought, had seen her blessed!
The sailor boy who'd read her note,
Who'd plucked it out from the sea,
And routed the Spanish Armada - 'Thanks
To Napoleon, and me!
The author on a childhood visit to the
Bois de Boulogne in the late 19th century.
A stop at the ménagerie left me sniffling;
I was soon to realize I was allergic to animals
and other commonplace entertainments.
I would have nothing of stuffed or wooden toys;
instead, I was obsessed with fine artworks,
cambistry, precious gems,
subtle sartorial distinctions
Mother, a great and vivacious beauty. 1891
Depicted with one of her favorite jewels.
For as long as I can remember, any discussion
of mother has been strictly verboten.
Father, The Marquis Chariot,
Noblesse de chancellerie. 1895
"Held me at arm's length"
Father's foundation in Switzerland
The Chariot Institute at Shush Castle. c. 1898
Here, under imposing gothic spires, studies are
performed on the criminally insane. Many modern
modalities such as lobotomy, shock treatment
and waterboarding are based on The Chariot Method.
Childhood sweetheart, melting first love,
the Comtesse de Boulainvilliers. 1894
Enjoyed many childhood games on the estate grounds,
sweet fantasies in which she employed vast and subtle
psychological characterizations to embroider
her roles as "princess" or "fairy". Fell down a well,
but the body was never found.
Cemetery and chapel on the estate at Libellules. 1892
Where the Comtesse and I spent countless childhood hours,
capturing and cataloguing insects according to a classificatory
system based entirely on the structure of the mouthparts.
Maypole at Libellules. 1893
Perceptive readers will recognize the Duc d'Auvergne,
the Marquess de Mercœur, Vicomte d'Alençon,
Baroness de Clermont-Tonnerre and the
Comtesse de Berry among the noceurs, several
of whom tragically met their end at Libellules.
A favorite snapshot of the governess. 1896,
taken by the author at age 10.
It was around this time I developed a keen interest
in The Fine Arts, spending innumerable private
hours with Mlle Auchon, who tirelessly
indulged my most strident artistic directions.
Classmates at L'École des Roches, Paris. 1899
Bourgeois bullies and nouveau riche daemons, all.
will focus on student days,
youthful adventures, romantic interludes
and first marriage.
With an eye to propriety,
will be available by password only,
which will be emailed to
commenters on Part One.
. . .
© Monsieur Chariot 2011