Large 19th century memorial bronze medal, silver plate, of Madame de Raubutin-"Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné (1626-1696). Madame de Sévigné was France’s preeminent writer of epistles in the seventeenth century. She appears at first glance to possess few philosophical credentials because she neither received formal philosophical instruction nor composed philosophical treatises. Yet in her extensive correspondence, De Sévigné develops a distinctive position on the philosophical disputes of her era. Rejecting the mechanistic account of nature, she supports a realist philosophy of nature, especially sensitive to the aesthetic structure of the cosmos. Sympathetic to Jansenism, De Sévigné develops a philosophy of God that stresses the divine will and the omnipresence of divine causation. Her moral psychology explores the amatory structure of human desire and the difficulty of accepting one’s mortality. Representative of neoclassicism, her philosophy of art privileges the values of harmony, proportion, and balance. An avid reader of theological and philosophical works, she provides a running commentary on the theories of her favorite contemporary authors. Her letters reflect the intellectual sophistication of the period’s salon culture, where the philosophical controversies spawned by Cartesianism had become the object of everyday discussion.
The box is in excellent preserved state, and the medal is, as well. Cast in bas-relief bronze and then silver plated, a little of the silver has rubbed in repeated polishing and shows a little bronze through, giving it both age and charm. This would have been a Grand Tour commemorative, likely marking 200th anniversary of her death, c.1896.
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