At a time when deer hunting is particularly criticized by environmental activists, two charming events took place this week which immediately result from this noble sports. A wonderful mass and concert at Eglise de la Trinité was celebrated on January 29 th, with over fifty “sonneurs” French horn players led by Nicolas Dromer and Eric Petit, taking turns with the organist and answering to each other in the beautiful space of the 9 th arrondissement. And a double exhibition “Conversations amoureuses” centered on “flirtation at the hunt” over three centuries, in two museums of Senlis, The Musée de la Vénerie (Hunting museum) and Musée d’Art et d’archéologie.
We are far from blockbuster exhibitions at Musée de la Vénerie which concentrates on deer hunting on horseback (no shooting) and is filled with paintings by Oudry, Desportes and Van Der Meulen but also Boldini and Jacques Emile Blanche. Two rooms are dedicated to hunting coats and luxurious horse accessories, a smaller room is devoted to Imperial hunts in Compiègne but the most extraordinary series is the seven paintings by Albert Guillaume which used to decorate the dining room at Hotel du Grand Cerf in Senlis. They are the chore of the exhibition on flirtations with a painting “Au rendez vous” where a galant hunter dressed in red, becomes the determined “dragueur” or future lover.
Kings used to take their favorites hunting. A painting by Balthazar Moncornet shows Louis XIV initiating his wife Marie Thérèse and their son to the joys of the hunt. The Queen is covered with jewelry and their horses flirt with each other.
I love the idea that couples could fall in love in the forest while hunting. Of course outdoor pleasures were important at court for all the kings and emperors and the various musics played by the sonneurs at the curée (after the deer dies) are extremely exciting.
At Eglise de la Trinité, Nicolas Dromer, International champion of trompe de chasse, offered with Eric Petit a sublime concert of Saint Saëns’ Gloria, Introït and Ave Maria, as well as typical Saint Hubert hymns. When you hear fifty sonneurs together in a church, your heart burns! They belonged to Trompes d’Yauville, Rallye Vau-Vent, Allé de Chennevières and Club Périnet and are all members of the Fédération of Trompes de France and Trompes d’Ile de France.
You can spend a day in Senlis visiting its cathedral, Medieval quarter and two museums. The exhibition “Conversations amoureuses” is on until March 5.
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