In Rome I had the honor to be invited to a musicale at Queen Margharita’s. The great drawing-rooms were filled with great ladies laden down with family jewels of fabulous value. All the music was terribly serious. Now this kind of music does not make for personal acquaintance, especially as all these great people were victims of a boredom they did their best to conceal. Afterwards the two queens wanted to talk to me. Queen Helene, who is a violinist, told me that her children were learning the violin and the cello, an arrangement I praised highly, for the exclusive devotion to the piano in these later days has been the death of chamber music and almost of music itself.
In my gallery of sovereigns I cannot forget the gracious Queen of Belgium. I have always seen her, however, in company with her august husband, and this story would become interminable if I were to include “Their Majesties” of the sterner sex—the Emperor of Germany, the Kings of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Portugal....
As I have had more to do with princes than with sovereigns, my tongue sometimes slips in talking to the latter. As I excused myself one day for addressing the Queen of Belgium as “Highness,” she replied, with a smile, “Don’t apologize; that recalls good times.”
She told me of the time when she and the king, then only heirs apparent, used to go up and down the Mediterranean coast in a little two-seated car. It was during this period that I had the honor of meeting them at the palace of his Serene Highness the Prince of Monaco, and of having charming and interesting personal conversation with them, for the king is a savant and the queen an artist.
Ingres was famous for his violin. A single wall separated the apartment where I lived during my childhood and youth from the one where the painter Granger, one of Ingres’s pupils, with his wife and daughter, lived. Granger painted the Adoration of the Wise Men in the church of Notre Dame de Lorette. I have played with the gilt paper crown which his model wore when posing as one of the three kings. My mother and Mlle. Granger (who later became Madame Paul Meurice) both loved painting and became great friends. They copied together Paul Delaroche’s Enfants d’Edouard at the Louvre, a picture which was the rage at that time. My mother’s paintings, in an admirable state of preservation, may be seen at the museum at Dieppe.
I was introduced to Ingres when I was five years old through the Granger family. The distance from the Rue du Jardinet, where we lived, to the Quai Voltaire was not far, and we often went like a procession—the Grangers, my great-aunt Masson, my mother and I—to call upon Ingres and his wife, a delightfully simple woman whom everyone loved.