Monday, January 27, 2014

Fire at the Hôtel Dieu

Here is Hubert Robert's 1773 painting of the ruins of the great hospital in Paris after it was destroyed in a fire. (Via Anna Gibson.) The seventeen year old Marie-Antoinette wrote of it to her mother, saying:
… All the gazettes will be talking about the cruel fire at the Hôtel-Dieu; they have had to move the sick into the [cathedral of Notre Dame] and the Archbishop’s palace. There are usually five or six thousand sick in the hospital; in spite of the care that was taken, it was impossible to prevent a part of the building from burning…
… The Archbishop published a letter ordering a charity drive; I sent a thousand écus. I never mentioned it; I am being given embarrassing compliments, but they say it must be so as it gives a good example …
—Marie-Antoinette to Maria Theresa, 13 January 1773


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