Art, Featured, Italy, Travel

Let them eat bugs

I am currently reading the souvenirs of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, or, rather, a part of it focusing on her travels in Italy after having escaped the French Revolution. Madame Le Brun was no Raphael or Rembrandt, but she was a talented painter, mostly famous for her portraits, in particular for the several portraits she made of Queen Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette, as everyone knows, was the Queen dethroned and guillotined by the revolutionaries and famous for supposedly saying “let them eat brioche” (in fact, it is very unlikely that she really said that, and she had no small number of detractors who invented all kinds of rumours about her).

Madame Le Brun herself, at least according to Wikipedia, was not an aristocrat by birth and had humble origins, showing that even in pre-Revolutionary France there was a certain social mobility. Her mother was a hairdresser and his father an unknown painter. He taught her painting, but died when she was only 12. Her mother remarried and the new husband, who became Élisabeth’s stepfather, was a rich jeweller, but also not an aristocrat by birth. Yet Élisabeth became a requested painter quite early in her career, painting the portraits of several nobles, and eventually married an important art dealer, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun.

Le Brun’s souvenirs, or at least the part I am reading, begin just as the royal family is removed from the palace and Le Brun flees France in disguise with her daughter (her husband remains in France and eventually joins the Revolutionary cause, but she remains a monarchist to the end of her life).

Le Brun’s book depicts both her horror at the events taking place in France as well as her fascination with Italy, in particular Italian art (she’s a big fan of Raphael, Domenichino, Michelangelo and Corregio). It is a very interesting read, and I look forward to the volume about Russia, where she lived afterwards.

But anyway — what I wanted to talk about was the French Revolution. To my mind, it was a senseless bloodbath and really the foundation of our modern world, based on idealistic but equivocated ideas of “equality”, “democracy” and “secularism” — in other words, the beginning of what we now call “globalism”.

It is symptomatic that France, together with America, which was inspired by similar (Freemason’s) ideas, are the first countries poised to fall in the New World Order. France’s population is today composed of at least 40% non-European foreigners (they don’t keep statistics about ethnicity or religion, but a map of “sickle-cell anemia” gives the game away) and has so many social and economic problems that it is hard to see how it can survive as a “French” nation a hundred years from now — or even twenty.

The funny thing about modern democracy — which started with the French and American Revolutions — is that it is supposed to be a system based on the will of the people instead of that of unaccountable elites, but, as we see more and more, the will of the people counts for very little. Just look at the farmers’ protests going on in France and other countries, which, despite their massive support by the public, have not moved the government’s position one inch. And why is the government set up against its own farmers, anyway?

But, in fact, you can argue that everything that happens in modern democracy is done against the will of the population, or, at least, done without consulting them at all. Just look at massive immigration, gay marriage, the transgender stuff — all those are unpopular measures that no one voted or asked for, and yet keep being implemented.

The problem of modern democracy is that the supposed leaders are no leaders at all, but puppets of a hidden cabal. So you have no one to protest against. Even if Macron or Biden became so unpopular that they were forced to resign, nothing much would happen — some other puppet would take their place and things would just go on as usual.

Now the unaccountable elites are saying, not “let them eat brioche”, but, “let them eat bugs”. For some reason they really are pushing for insects on the menu, as well as all kinds of genetically modified veggies and artificial meat made in a lab. But the rich at Davos will still eat Kobe steak and caviar, thank you very much.

I really don’t know what is the answer to our present quandaries, and as you can see I am not a great fan of violent revolutions — which are usually not the popular movements they are portrayed to be, but just the removal of one “elite” by another — but what can be done at this point? Except perhaps waiting and preparing for whatever may come?

But let us finish with a short quotation from Le Brun’s book, while she visits a church in Bologna, and muses on the fate of her country. We are all Le Brun now.

I went immediately to the church of Sant’Agnese, where this saint’s martyrdom is represented in a painting by Domenichino. The youth and innocence of Saint Agnes is so well captured on her beautiful face and the features of the torturer striking her with his sword form such a cruel contrast to her divine nature, that I was overwhelmed with pious admiration. As I knelt before the masterpiece, someone played the overture to Iphigenia on the organ. The involuntary link that I made between the young pagan victim of that story and the young Christian victim, the memory of the peaceful, happy time when I had last listened to that piece of music, and the sad thought of all the evils pressing upon my unhappy country, weighed down my heart to the point where I began to cry bitterly and to pray to God on behalf of France. Fortunately I was alone in the church and I was able to remain there for some time, giving vent to those painful emotions which took control of my soul.

Whatever you think of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, at least brioche — in the English translation of the phrase they usually say “cake”, but it is just a sweet bread — is delicious, nutritive and not difficult to make. While bugs are disgusting, dangerous and, when you make all the calculations, the economics for their production is not really that green. I know, Asians eat bugs, but I’d rather keep them out of my diet. I prefer the Italian/Mediterranean food.

“Self-portrait”, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1790)