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The discovery or female Free-Mason / La decouverte ou la femme franc maçon

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1868,0808.4456

  • Title (object)

    • The discovery or female Free-Mason
    • La decouverte ou la femme franc maçon
  • Description

    Portrait (whole length) of the Chevalier d'Eon, as a woman. He is fashionably dressed, and resembles a good-looking woman of fashion, his head turned slightly to the left showing an elongated pearl ear-ring. He wears a cap over high-dressed hair, a low-cut bodice with ruffled elbow-sleeves. His right hand, on his hip, holds a sword. With his left hand, which holds a cane attached to his wrist by strings, he points left towards a military coat which is spread over a chair. He wears the order of St. Louis and a free-mason's apron. Behind him on the right is a table covered with a cloth hanging in heavy folds; on it is a document, "A Policy 25 P Ct On the Chr D'Eon Man, or Woman," and two uniformly-bound books, "Lettres du Chr D'Eon", "L'Hist. du Chr D'Eon". On the wall behind a military hat and sword hang directly over d'Eon's head. On each side of him is a picture: one (left) represents Mrs. Tofts producing rabbits (see BMSat 1778-86); the other depicts the bottle-imp, seated in a large funnel which is in the neck of a bottle (see BMSat 3022-7). Beneath each picture is the bust of a man; that on the left is Wilkes, an associate of d'Eon, who was accused of trafficking in the insurances on his sex (see BMSat 4870). 25 June 1771
    Mezzotint

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  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1771
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 311 millimetres (image only)
    • Width: 252 millimetres (image only)
    • Height: 374 millimetres (sheet)
    • Width: 252 millimetres (sheet)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Beneath the title is engraved in French and English: "Lady Charles, Louis, Cezar, Augustus Alexander, Timotheus, D'Eon of Beaumont - Advocate of the Parliament of Paris, Secretary to the Ambassy at the Court of Russia, Aid de Camp of the Duke de Broglio, Captian of Dragoons, Royal Censor, Secretary of Ambassy under the Duke de Nivernois, Knt of ye Military order of St Louis, Minister Plenipotentiary to his Britanic Majesty, & acceptd free Mason at the Lodge of immortality at the Crown & Anchor in the Strand" and "Printed for S. Hooper, N° 25 Ludgate hill 25th June 1771, as the Act Directs."
  • Curator's comments

    Published on 25 June 1771, this print mocks the Chevalier d'Eon's reception as a Freemason at a London Masonic Lodge and 'unmasks' him as a woman. Wearing an elegant gown, but posed in a typically masculine way, the Chevalier embodies the contradictions of his public persona. The policy document shown on the table behind him refers to the frenzied betting currently taking place on his sex (also satirised in 1886,1221.6 and Y,4.568, among others), while a bust of his friend John Wilkes alludes to rumours that Wilkes and d'Eon were benefitting financially from the policies. He is also accompanied by representations of two of the most notorious hoaxes of the 18th century: the 'bottle imp' (for which, see 1868,0808.3875) and Mary Toft who, in the 1720s, tricked the nation into believing that she had given birth to rabbits (see 1868,0808.3518). The implication is that his change of sex, or concealment of his sex, is a hoax comparable in scale.

    For another print referencing d'Eon's reception as a Mason, see 1868,0808.4458.

    SV

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  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 4865 bibliographic details
    • Parkinson 2013 p. 78 bibliographic details
    • Chaloner Smith 1883 undescribed bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2011-12 Oct- Feb, BM, Grayson Perry

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1868

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1868,0808.4456

Portrait (whole length) of the Chevalier d'Eon, as a woman. He is fashionably dressed, and resembles a good-looking woman of fashion, his head turned slightly to the left showing an elongated pearl ear-ring. He wears a cap over high-dressed hair, a low-cut bodice with ruffled elbow-sleeves. His right hand, on his hip, holds a sword. With his left hand, which holds a cane attached to his wrist by strings, he points left towards a military coat which is spread over a chair. He wears the order of St. Louis and a free-mason's apron. Behind him on the right is a table covered with a cloth hanging in heavy folds; on it is a document, "A Policy 25 P Ct On the Chr D'Eon Man, or Woman," and two uniformly-bound books, "Lettres du Chr D'Eon", "L'Hist. du Chr D'Eon". On the wall behind a military hat and sword hang directly over d'Eon's head. On each side of him is a picture: one (left) represents Mrs. Tofts producing rabbits (see BMSat 1778-86); the other depicts the bottle-imp, seated in a large funnel which is in the neck of a bottle (see BMSat 3022-7). The implication is that by the changes in his sex d'Eon is carrying on a fraud comparable to the two most notorious hoaxes of the century. Beneath each picture is the bust of a man; that on the left is Wilkes, an associate of d'Eon, who was accused of trafficking in the insurances on his sex (see BMSat 4870).   Beneath the title is engraved in French and English: "Lady Charles, Louis, Cezar, Augustus Alexander, Timotheus, D'Eon of Beaumont - Advocate of the Parliament of Paris, Secretary to the Ambassy at the Court of Russia, Aid de Camp of the Duke de Broglio, Captian of Dragoons, Royal Censor, Secretary of  Ambassy under the Duke de Nivernois, Knt of ye Military order of St Louis, Minister Plenipotentiary to his Britanic Majesty, & acceptd free Mason at the Lodge of immortality at the Crown & Anchor in the Strand".  25 June 1771  Mezzotint

Portrait (whole length) of the Chevalier d'Eon, as a woman. He is fashionably dressed, and resembles a good-looking woman of fashion, his head turned slightly to the left showing an elongated pearl ear-ring. He wears a cap over high-dressed hair, a low-cut bodice with ruffled elbow-sleeves. His right hand, on his hip, holds a sword. With his left hand, which holds a cane attached to his wrist by strings, he points left towards a military coat which is spread over a chair. He wears the order of St. Louis and a free-mason's apron. Behind him on the right is a table covered with a cloth hanging in heavy folds; on it is a document, "A Policy 25 P Ct On the Chr D'Eon Man, or Woman," and two uniformly-bound books, "Lettres du Chr D'Eon", "L'Hist. du Chr D'Eon". On the wall behind a military hat and sword hang directly over d'Eon's head. On each side of him is a picture: one (left) represents Mrs. Tofts producing rabbits (see BMSat 1778-86); the other depicts the bottle-imp, seated in a large funnel which is in the neck of a bottle (see BMSat 3022-7). The implication is that by the changes in his sex d'Eon is carrying on a fraud comparable to the two most notorious hoaxes of the century. Beneath each picture is the bust of a man; that on the left is Wilkes, an associate of d'Eon, who was accused of trafficking in the insurances on his sex (see BMSat 4870). Beneath the title is engraved in French and English: "Lady Charles, Louis, Cezar, Augustus Alexander, Timotheus, D'Eon of Beaumont - Advocate of the Parliament of Paris, Secretary to the Ambassy at the Court of Russia, Aid de Camp of the Duke de Broglio, Captian of Dragoons, Royal Censor, Secretary of Ambassy under the Duke de Nivernois, Knt of ye Military order of St Louis, Minister Plenipotentiary to his Britanic Majesty, & acceptd free Mason at the Lodge of immortality at the Crown & Anchor in the Strand". 25 June 1771 Mezzotint

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