My black tulip, I have found you. Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade…. For years, I have been searching for a copy of the Skull of the Marquis de Sade. That search has come to an end. I may now add this most regal of artefacts to my little museum shrine to the beautiful to the outre.
Let me tell you how I found him…
Upon his death on December 2, 1814 at the age of 74, the Marquis de Sade was buried in the Charenton house cemetery. His grave was covered by a stone upon which no name was engraved. Despite his last wishes a cross was erected on the site. In 1818, the cemetery was reorganised and his body was exhumed.
Dr Ramon, assistant to his personnel doctor, Doucet, took the Marquis’ skull for study. Doctor Spurzheim, follower of the doctor Franz Joseph Gall, father of phrenology, borrowed the skull and made moulds of it with his assistant Dumoutier. One of these moulds is still in the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Man) reserves. According to the phrenologists, the skull of the “divine marquis ” was ” in every respect similar to that of a father of the church. “The original skull was then taken on a Phrenology lecture tour in the United States where it was lost.
The mystery of the Skull has inspired some classics of popular culture. The malefic artefact was featured in the 1945 Robert Bloch novel The Skull of the Marquis de Sade. This was later adapted to the memorable 1965 Amicus film The Skull.
My quest led me to contact the current Marquis (yes, the title is still active) Hugues de Sade. He is a lovely man, full of charm. We have been in contact the past year. He produced 99 solid bronze copies of the Skull with a delightfully calligraphed certificate of authenticity carrying the family wax seal. He was kind enough to set one of the last few aside for me and that is what I just purchased. I have secured one for Madeleine’s Musee du Satanisme. I believe this calls for a party with the Divine Marquis as centrepiece!
Photos of the skull: