Mon Amour Et Mon Aide, Circa 1518
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Medicea Accademia Dell'Arte Occulta

SOLO PER USO INTERNO


Exhibition History:

Paris Academy (1970-1998, 2000-Present); On display in the Paintings and Engravings wing, third floor; continuous guest observation for over a minute is prohibited.

Occult Properties:

Individuals that are directly observing Mon Amour Et Mon Aide will promptly develop symptoms of lethargy (e.g. tiredness, lack of energy, etc). Prolonged exposure to the artwork will cause a temporary paralysis, eventually inducing heavy fainting.

Description:

The piece is a mixed painting titled Mon Amour Et Mon Aide. It depicts the Dancing Plague of 1518 in Strasbourg, Alsace (now modern France).

The work portrays a group of ten dancing characters, all with bloody feet. A smiling woman is in the piece’s center, dancing with them on a wooden stage above a diagonal line that structures the painting. Below it, a body of several French nobles, authorities and physicians are shown laughing and pointing their fingers up the arena. Two separate color zones are established, one dominated by red, the other by grey. The dancing woman in the center is thought to be the artist's wife, Adalene Troffea.



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Catalog Identification: 0056-[PAR]

'Mon Amour Et Mon Aide'

Manon Troffea

(France, 1475-1521)

France, 1518


Materials: Canvas, Oil, Tempera, Wax Pastel, Human Blood

Location: Paris Academy, France

On 25 July, 1518, Adalene died following the spread of the Dancing Plague epidemic. One day after, subsequent to the completion of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide, Troffea wrote1:

Adalene collapsed one day ago.

She started the madness a week before. Walked, her eyes lifeless, to an open street. Moved, smiled, and swept herself over the ground. Almost as if another being, one not from this earth, assumed control and didn't let go. I screamed and screamed, my efforts in vain. I held her face, tears striking down my own, and begged her, begged her to come home. She opened her mouth, color returned to her pale skin and I thought she was back.

She turned around and continued to jerk forward, a grin not from this world.

Soon, dozens and dozens of others joined her, with a single mind of their own, not stopping to eat or breathe. ''Hot blood'', claimed The City, panicked. Pierced their skin, to let the so-called cursed blood out, in a dumbfounded way to interrupt the epidemy. I tried to help and find a cure, a way, but they said I was not qualified enough. I sat back, watching my poor Adalene, pounds and pounds skinnier, powerless.

The authorities became enraged. ''If they want to dance so much, let them dance! It may calm them'', they claimed. Put all on a stage, nobles watching and laughing, almost if that was a spectacle. Left them there to rot.

Adalene collapsed one day ago. I ran to her arms, watching her life slowly fading away from her eyes and body. I searched for help, desperate, knowing that there was not anything I could do. I buried her, far from the place, beside her sister.

My work is what I leave to this city, to my love, and to myself.

The others need me, I know. They are still alive, still silently begging for an end to all of this.

I wish I could do more.

Provenance:

1518: Manon Troffea finishes Mon Amour Et Mon Aide.

Late 1518: Troffea is investigated for rumors of using human blood in his piece. Records show that he was able to convince officials that they were using a pigment made from pig and pigeon blood, but suspicion remains. No occult properties are noted by official records, suggesting they manifested at a later date.

15 June, 1519: The piece is unveiled during the Feast of St. Vitus2. Reception is mixed, as the feast-day was not widely recognized outside of Serbia.

15 July, 1519: The first year anniversary of the Dancing Plague occurs. Manon displays the piece in a small gallery in Strasbourg. Three people faint from exposure.

August 1519: Tutors from the Paris Academy arrive to inspect the piece, confirming occult properties. Troffea pleads ignorance regarding these properties, and appears to be immune to the effects.

23 August, 1519: An offer is made to purchase the Mon Amour Et Mon Aide for 200 Thaler (over 50,000 modern Euro). This is firmly rejected, with Manon stating he would rather burn the work than sell it.

November 1519: Troffea creates a second edition of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide. The properties in this edition are more potent than the first edition, possibly due to the higher quality of the work overall, as well as the fact that this edition included Troffea's own blood. Twelve people exposed lose all desire for 'frivolous movement' including dancing.

30 January, 1520: Authorities break into Troffea's place of residence, following several complaints of a smell of rotten blood. They find a third edition of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide, this time with two figures highlighted on the stage— one of which resembles Troffea himself. A note is found pinned to the canvas, transcribed and translated below:

There is some sweet irony here. I created these pieces to stop movement. Now, I see them on the canvas, moving, writhing, spasming. Adalene is there, and I see her grin, manic, as her limbs flail. I begged her to stop, my hands covered with the blood I painted with. I yelled at them, told them to stop. I tore the canvas where it depicted the jeering nobility, and burned it.

Then, altogether, the dancing stopped. I turned back, and found Adalene sitting on the stage, with several others, nursing their wounded feet. Our eyes met, and it was as if we had locked eyes for the first time ever. My heart jumped, and I could tell that hers was doing the same.

I went to embrace her, and found the canvas was no barrier. I am going to join her once more.

Troffea was never seen again. The third edition of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide possesses no occult properties, and is currently on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

15 February, 1520: The Paris Academy acquires both the first and second editions of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide.

20 June 1822: The second edition of Mon Amour Et Mon Aide is destroyed following a fire in the Paris Academy.

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