Girandoles – Paul and Virginia

Paul and Virginia Girandoles

The design inspiration for the Paul and Virginia girandoles was the 1787 romantic novel Paul et Virginie by the French author Bernadin de Saint-Pierre (1737 to 1814). The novel tells of star-crossed lovers, the children of misalliances whose mothers have sought refuge in the tropical French Colony of Isle de France (Mauritus). Raised as siblings, Paul and Virginia develop a deep and innocent love broken only by Virginia’s return to Europe to care for a sick aunt. Later, while returning to Paul, Virginia dies in a shipwreck, to be followed shortly in death by her grief-strickent lover.

This classic novel, also espousing Saint-Pierre’s recurring themes of order and harmony in the universe under the divine providence of God, was widely popular thoughout the nineteenth century and its themes are reflected in many products of the Victorian era’s popular culture.

For a period aquatint related to the Paul and Virginia novel see p4A item 182998.

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