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FRANCOIS CHARPENTIER (1620-1702)

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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 948 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRANCOIS CHARPENTIER (1620-1702), French archaeologist and man of letters, was born in Paris on the 15th of February 162o. He was intended for the bar, but was employed by Colbert, who had determined on the foundation of a French East India Company, to draw up an explanatory account of the project for Louis XIV. Charpentier regarded as absurd the use of Latin in monumental inscriptions, and to him was entrusted the task of supplying the paintings of Lebrun in the Versailles Gallery with appropriate legends. His verses were so indifferent that they had to be replaced by others, the work of Racine and Boileau, both enemies of his. Charpentier in his Excellence de la langue francaise (1683) had anticipated Perrault in the famous academical dispute concerning the relative merit of the ancients and moderns. He is credited with a share in the production of the magnificent series of medals that commemorate the principal events of the age of Louis XIV. Charpentier, who was long in receipt of a pension of 1200 livres from Colbert, was erudite and ingenious, but he was always heavy and common-place. His other works include a Vie de Socrate (165o), a translation of the Cyropaedia of Xenophon (1658), and the Traite de la peinture parlante (1684). CHARRI$RE, AGNES ISABELLE EMILIE DE (1740-1805), Swiss author, was Dutch by birth, her maiden name being van Tuyll van Seeroskerken van ZuyIen. She married in 1771 her brother's tutor, M. de Charriere, and settled with him at Colombier, near Lausanne. She made her name by the publication of her Lettres neuchdteloises (Amsterdam, 1784), offering a simple and attractive picture of French manners. This, with Caliste, ou lettres ecrites de Lausanne (2 vols. Geneva, 1785–1788), was analysed and highly praised by Sainte-Beuve in his Portraits de femmes and in vol. iii of his Portraits litteraires. She wrote a number of other novels, and some political tracts; but is perhaps best remembered by her liaison with Benjamin Constant between 1787 and 1796. Her letters to Constant were printed in the Revue Suisse (April 1844), her Lettres-Memoires by E. H. Gaullieur in the same review in 1857, and all the available material is utilized in a monograph on her and her work by P. Godet, Madame de Charriere et ses antis (2 vols., Geneva, 1906)..
End of Article: FRANCOIS CHARPENTIER (1620-1702)
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