The Tour de Nesle: of stone, ink and fiction
Vestige of Paris medieval fortifications, picturesque silhouette erected on the banks of the Seine, the Tour de Nesle was destroyed in 1663 by architect Louis Le Vau, who built Mazarine Library at its place.
Built in the XIIth century with Philippe Auguste’s enceinte, the Tour de Nesle has known during five centuries frequent modifications and redesigns, according to its users’ needs and in accordance with the evolution of the capital’s defensive requirements. Because of its specific position, the Tour de Nesle has become a major subject for illuminators, painters and engravers. Nevertheless, the beautiful works produced do not entirely explain this singular monument’s notoriety. The Tour de Nesle survival in the Parisian imagination is indeed due, for the largest part, to legends which have linked it to the adulterous affairs of King Philippe le Bel’s daughters-in-law.
François Villon, Brantôme, Alexandre Dumas, Aloysius Bertrand and Abel Gance have thereby contributed to pass the memory of Tour de Nesle, and sustain its associated fantasies. Summoned by romantic literature and popular arts, reconstituted by theater and serial novels, dioramas and then the cinema, Tour de Nesle has become a paper or cardboard monument, which had replaced the original building, erased for the Parisian landscape for three and a half centuries ago.
On the very place where it was once erected, Tour de Nesle is represented on a wide range of supports: from medieval charter to stage costume, but also illuminated manuscript, drawing, engraving, advertisement vignette, poster, author’s manuscript or popular edition. All these documents are organized in the exhibition in ways to give a three-dimensional vision of Tour de Nesle: historical, iconographical and literary.
La Tour de Nesle : de pierre, d'encre et de fiction
sous la direction de Jocelyn Bouquillard, Patrick Latour & Valentine Weiss.
Bibliothèque Mazarine & Editions des cendres, 2014, 236 p.
(ISBN : 979-10-90853-04-1 ; ISBN supplémentaire:978-2-86742-229-4). 24 €