Alexis Soyer and the Rise of the Celebrity Chef
Michael Garval, North Carolina State University
1 Monkey, in
French, is "singe," and the verb "singer" means to imitate
mindlessly—as in "to ape" in English.
drawing, and the tongue-in-cheek commentary below it, play
on the meaning of "baron" in culinary French, as a large
roast, usually of mutton or lamb.
Steward to the Prince de Condé, Vatel stabbed
himself fatally with his own sword, during a feast in honor
of King Louis XIV, when an important seafood delivery was
delayed. The provisions arrived soon after. (cf. Dominique
Michel, Vatel ou la naissance de la
gastronomie [Paris: Fayard, 1999]).
is similar to Jean-Léon Gérôme's
Phryné devant le tribunal of 1861, in which
the courtesan's gesturing to cover her face, while
ostensibly out of modesty, all the more surely calls
attention to her resplendent nudity, and to her identity as
an incomparable beauty: she was supposedly the model for
Praxiteles's Venus of Knidos, the archetypal nude in
is similar in conception to Marcelin's caricature "Romans
populaires," which pokes fun at novelists George Sand,
Eugène Sue, Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo,
and Alexandre Dumas père, through heraldic
shields displaying "not the author's coat of arms, but
instead a witty emblem of the work in question" (cf. Garval
"la guerre Picrocholine" in Rabelais's Gargantua, or
the conflict between the "Andouilles" and "Quaresmeprenant"
in Le Quart Livre.
explains that this "letter to the public press" never made
it to its destination, "through the mismanagement of my
servant, who threw it into the post without paying the
refers to Byron's poem, "Written after Swimming from Systos
Karl Marx's Le 18 Brumaire de Louis Bonaparte and
Victor Hugo's Napoléon le Petit, both
published in 1852.
Nicolas Soyer was the son of Alexis Soyer junior,
himself the illegitimate son of the famed chef and the
parisienne Adèle Lamain, resulting from their
liaison before the former's departure for London. Alexis
Soyer senior apparently did not learn of his son's
existence until 1851, and recognized him officially as his
child in 1853 (Volant and Warren 239-242).