fetes galantes

Music Party (1774). Louis de Trinquesse (French, 1745-c.1800). Oil on canvas. Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

Trinquesse painted a number of scenes in the tradition of 18th-century fetes galantes, but was best-known as a prolific draughtsman. His drawings, often signed and dated, were made between 1763 and 1797 or 1798.


mezzosoprano bethan langford sings paul verlaine’s ‘colloque sentimentale’ set to music by claude debussy in the 'fêtes galantes'  cycle of his 'melodies’.

Paul Verlaine, 'sentimental conversation’ (from fêtes galants) translated by a.s. kline


in the old lonely park’s frozen glass

two dark shadows lately passed.

Their lips were slack, their eyes were blurred,

the words they spoke were scarcely heard.

In the old lonely park’s frozen glass

two spectral forms invoked the past.

‘Do you remember our former ecstasies?’

‘Why would you have me rake up memories?’

‘Does your heart still beat at my name alone?’

‘Is it always my soul you see in dream?’ – ‘Ah, no’.

‘Oh the lovely days of unspeakable mystery,

when our mouths met!’ – ‘Ah yes, maybe.’

‘How blue it was, the sky, how high our hopes!’

‘Hope fled, conquered, along the dark slopes.’

So they walked there, among the wild herbs,

and the night alone listened to their words.