“What Mozart Saw and What Saint-Aubin Heard: A View of the Concert Spirituel in 1778,” A Collaborative Lecture by Professor Kim de Beaumont

On Wednesday, February 26th the Graduate Student Lecture Series continued in the Zabar Art Library with a presentation by Professor Kim de Beaumont, Ph.D. on her latest research on French eighteenth-century artist Gabriel Saint-Aubin. Professor de Beaumont’s engagement with Saint-Aubin is extensive, having written her doctoral dissertation on his work and guest curating the retrospective exhibition Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780) at The Frick Collection, which opened in 2007 and traveled to the Louvre.

Gabriel Saint-Aubin, Vue du Salon du Louvre en l'année 1753, etching Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gabriel Saint-Aubin, Vue du Salon du Louvre en l’année 1753, etching
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Professor de Beaumont’s talk was a preview of her collaborative lecture entitled “What Mozart Saw and What Saint-Aubin Heard: A View of the Concert Spirituel in 1778,” given with her musicologist colleague Dr. Beverly Wilcox from the University of California, Davis on March 1st at the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. Saint-Aubin was a prolific artistic innovator, injecting his scenes of contemporary Parisian social life with imagination, wit and humor. His drawings of the Concert Spirituel at the Tuileries Palace were no exception. A center of activity for Parisian socialites, the Concert Spirituel was an internationally renowned concert space where people went to listen, but also to see and been seen.

Trained as a history painter, Saint-Aubin was no mere documentarian. In the course of her research, Professor de Beaumont has been able to identify many scenes in which Saint-Aubin took liberties with events both on stage and off when his artistic motivations required it. An excellent example was his large drawing of Quinault and Lully’s Armide, in which Saint-Aubin’s Rinaldo wears a sword, despite the fact that at this point in the narrative he had given up arms. He also animated his social scenes with lively gestures and well-thought-out arrangements. In one drawing of the Concert Spirituel, Professor de Beaumont pointed out how the figures resemble musical notation, anchored by a staunch, cleft-like figure to the left. A master of architectural rendering, he altered both decorative and structural elements to suit his vision, adding or subtracting as he saw fit. Saint-Aubin gives us a nuanced view of Parisian contemporary society that he innovatively enlivened and interpreted in a way that had never before been attempted, and would not be for many years to come.

The Graduate Student Lecture Series continues tonight in Zabar Art Library at 7 pm with Wayne Salazar, MFA Candidate, presenting Against Late Postmodernism and Silvia Benedetti, MA Candidate, presenting The Censured Biennial: The Boycott and the Contrabienal.

Megan Hines


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