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Jean-François, chevalier de La Tour…

19 June 2019

An. Jean Franc ois de La Tour SQ LT81 FlBr107…is the answer to Monday’s puzzle. Half-brother of the pastellist, he owned the collection of Maurice-Quentin’s works that are now to be found in the musée Antoine-Lécuyer at Saint-Quentin (where you can also find his portrait, left – anonymous French school – which may also inform your reaction to his letters). Had he married the lady in question, whose identity remains unknown (apart from the initials Ad. D. with which one of her letters is signed), who knows what might have happened to the collection which he bequeathed to his native city in his will? That story has been told repeatedly, and of course can be followed in my annotated table of La Tour documents which I have now updated to include the correspondence which was published by Charles Desmaze in Travaux de la Société académique de Saint-Quentin (xii, 1875, pp. 310–38), but subsequently overlooked by everyone. Desmaze left these letters to the museum, but they are thought to have been destroyed in the war. We have only therefore his printed text (unfortunately he arranged the documents in no order, and attached some sheets to the wrong letters, which is why I had to update my first blog when I found another description of the young widow before the chevalier wrote to her).

There (or I hope better arranged in my table) you can find the few names I have suppressed: the initial letter came from a person Desmaze identifies only as Mme Durosoy de Lépidor: she was in fact Marie-Thérèse Du Rozoi, third wife of Michel-Julien Mathieu dit Lépidor (1740–p.1799); they had married in 1784. A juge de paix, and former secrétaire du chevalier de Luxembourg, Lépidor was the younger son of the composer and musicien du roi Michel Mathieu, and himself composed several operas and some chamber music: very much the world the pastellist loved.

But perhaps the trickiest puzzle (apart from Ad. D.) concerns how Desmaze obtained the letters. They included a number, such as these, that B&W did print. But all Desmaze reveals was that he was given the letters by “Madame Sarrazin-Varluzel-de-Cessières” [sic]; in another reference Desmaze refers to her as “Mme Sarazin V. Varluzel, 10, rue de Chabrol, à Paris” (does the V. mean veuve?), while in a third Desmaze tells us that “Mme Sarazin Varluzel, légataire de l’abbé Duliège, a recueilli, dans cette succession, des tableaux venant de La Tour”; finally, in his 1874 Reliquaire, Desmaze states that Mme Sarazin was the heir of the abbé Duliège, “exécuteur testamentaire du chevalier de La Tour”. Later sources have gone no further, although embellishments occur: the Goncourts called Mme Sarazin Varluzel “une descendante de La Tour”.

Those of you addicted to puzzles may want to try your hand at unravelling this now. But as I have put the details into my documentation file, the answer is already, or will very shortly be, googleable. So I shall explain, after first disposing of the red herring that the link relates to a Pierre-Antoine Du Liège, sgr de Warluzel (1714–1789), who was président-trésorier de France et général des finances en la généralité d’Amiens.

The answer is quite different. The chevalier de La Tour’s executor, the abbé Duliège, has been known for some time, as Adrien-Joseph-Constant Duliège, chapelain de l’église de Saint-Quentin et vicaire de la paroisse de Notre-Dame, although I have only recently tracked his baptismal and burial records which require patient trawling through parish records. He was born in 1749 to a tailor whose sister was the pastellist’s step-mother and the chevalier’s mother. It is the abbé’s death which would seem most relevant in tracking Desmaze’s source: he died in 1817.

As it turns out Desmaze is wrong. Flore-Joséphine Warluzèle, as her name appeared at her baptism in 1820, was not related to La Tour, and, born three years after the abbé Duliège’s death, cannot have been his heir (didn’t Desmaze realize this when he met the 52-year-old lady?). She married, apparently for the second time, Henry-Léopold Sarrazin (from a Bordeaux family), at Cessières (Aisne) in 1872: he was very much alive, and lived at 11 [not 10] rue de Chabrol at the time. Her origins were humble, her father being a carpenter, and the name was variously spelt (names beginning with W were hardly popular in France in the 1870s). Consulting her previous marriage entry in 1866, however, we find that she was then described as the widow of an Emilien Duliège, a claim not documented anywhere else. Indeed Duliège’s death certificate, which describes him as a marchand de bois in Paris, rue de Charenton-Saint-Antoine, has him as a bachelor. The plot thickens however when we discover the name of one of the witnesses on Duliège’s death certificate: Joseph-Florimond Warluzel, ébéniste. To jump to the answer, Warluzel was Flore’s half-brother; he had obviously gone to Paris to practise his trade; the Duliège family included numerous members active in the carpentry and wood business in Paris, and the ébéniste presumably introduced his sister to Emilien, leading to a relationship of some level of irregularity. Emilien was born in Paris 10e on 26 janvier 1819, but the Paris archives where the Etat civil reconstitué is held do not provide copies of documents for remote scholarship, so the final link between Emilien and the abbé will have to remain open until I next have time…unless some kind reader of this blog would be kind enough to consult the microfiche. (My guess is that Emilien was the grandson of Pierre-Alexis-René Duliège, tailleur d’habits, brother of the abbé who married him to an Eusèbe-Adélaïde Lescot at Notre-Dame de Saint-Quentin in 1787: the chevalier de La Tour was a witness.)

[Post script, 9 October 2019: The Etat civil reconsitué has now revealed that Emilien was indeed Pierre-Alexis-René’s grandson.]


From → Art history

  1. arachnie permalink

    When and if, I am in a correct state after what you know, I will try to see through those micro-fiches … It’s more a maze than a puzzle … With my best regards Anne Muraz

    • That would be wonderful. The acte de naissance appears on the digitzed index cards online:
      Emilien Duliege, Paris 10e, le 26 janvier 1819 (V3E/N 802 vue 45/101).

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