La Pouplinière, J. F. Rameau 1683/17640
Paris, July 1753.
With his dark green jacket, gold buttons, white shirt adorned in red thread, dark breeches, buckled shoes and white wig, Voltaire approaches Passy. He listens to the sound of the horses’ hooves, and sways with the rattling of the wheels of his berline against the cobblestones of the bridge which crosses the Seine. As the afternoon dwindles, he observes the driver’s long shadow through the window, and in the background, the grey tones of the retreating city.
Leaving Paris, the setting sun shines in golden hues which accentuate the red profile of his lips on his powdered face. The warm light, illuminates the yellow leaves of the Lindens and Poplars lining the road to d’Atueil. They go towards the castle of Passy, the summer residence of Alexandre Jean Joseph de la Pouplinière, Le Riche.
As every summer, Le Riche de la Pouplinière receives the Parisian society in his main hall. Above delicately arranged Turkish carpets, strategically disorganised armchairs cluster the guests, all of whom champions of The Enlightenment. Voltaire, close to the host, participates in the dialogue without losing sight of the other guests. He observes Rousseau, D’Alembert, de la Tour, the young Mdme. of Dancenis, Lavoisier, to Mdme. Riccoboni, Van Tool and the rest of artists, scientists and philosophers gathered there. He doesn’t lose the attention he pays to himself, he does not get carried away; he is intentionally removed from his own character, he likes to observe himself acting in society. He notes all: thinking, judging and conversing.
From the back of the room, Jean Philippe Rameau appears. Voltaire loves his music of the French tradition, based on the natural reason of the science of sound. He understands perfectly the rhetorical messages directed to reason in the musical discourse of controversial Rameau.
Ignacio Botella Ausina