[ÉON (Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste Timothée... - Lot 61 - Pescheteau-Badin

Lot 61
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Estimation :
300 - 400 EUR
[ÉON (Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste Timothée... - Lot 61 - Pescheteau-Badin
[ÉON (Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste Timothée de Beaumont, chevalier d')]. - LA DECOUVERTE OU LA FEMME FRANC-MAÇON. [London], printed for S. Hooper, [1771]. Copper engraving (portrait in the black manner, and captions in burin), with colored highlights. 37.5 x 27.5 on a large folio. PORTRAIT OF THE CHEVALIER D'ÉON DRESSED AS A WOMAN WITH THE ATTRIBUTES OF A FRANC-MACON, a double scandal, in England at the time, of a man dressed as a woman, and a woman dressed as a Freemason. The caption in French and English at the bottom of the print recalls the knight's career and titles, and states that he was "received as a Freemason at the Lodge of L'Immortalité de l'Ordre at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand". Behind the knight is a paper on which is written, in English, "A Policy 25 P Ct On the Chr D'Éon Man or Woman", alluding to the bets made in London on the nature of his sex. On the wall, two paintings evoke famous swindlers: the Bottle conjuror, an acrobat who claimed to be able to enter a bottle, and Mary Toft, a peasant woman who managed to make people believe she had given birth to rabbits. TRAVESTI AND DIPLOMATE OF LOUIS XV, L'EXTRAVAGANT CHEVALIER D'ÉON (1728-1810), was first employed in St. Petersburg in 1755 as agent to the King's Secret, then in 1756 as secretary to the ambassador, Duc de Nivernais. He followed the latter to London in 1762, still as ambassadorial secretary, to assist him in the peace talks with England, and it was he who brought Louis XV the ratification of the peace treaty - the king rewarded him with the title of minister plenipotentiary. That same year, however, the Chevalier d'Éon quarreled with the Duke's successor, the Comte de Guerchy, to whom he refused to hand over secret diplomatic papers that could compromise France in the eyes of England. On the one hand, he accused the Count of trying to have him assassinated, resulting in a huge public scandal; on the other, he demanded money from Versailles to return the papers. At the same time, from 1769 onwards, he began to be known for his eccentric behavior, including cross-dressing and calling himself the "Chevalière d'Éon". In 1777, after negotiations with Beaumarchais, he agreed to return the papers he had kept, and was authorized to return to France, but presented himself to the Court dressed as a woman. Ruined by the Revolution, he survived by giving lessons in female fencing, and ended his life in financial ruin as an emigrant in London. THE CHEVALIER D'ÉON SERVED AS A MODEL FOR BEAUMARCHAIS' CHARACTER CHERUBIN IN LE MARIAGE DE FIGARO.
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