Les Deux Carrosses by Claude Gillot (circa 1707)

The painting Les Deux Carrosses by Claude Gillot presents a scene of street-level conflict where two carts pulled by servants are blocking each other. The characters in the painting, arranged around the binary opposition of the cart pullers (who are almost touching) gesticulate grotesquely. One of them is masked, and all are dressed in rich but in some cases strange clothing. According to the commentators, the painting was inspired by a comedy piece written in 1695 by Regnard and Dufresny titled “La foire Saint-Germain.” The “main” characters in the scene are Arlequin (right) and Scaramouche (left).

This painting shows the opposition and indirect conflict of two members of non-working classes (or their comedic representations) mediated by the immediate (physical but still not direct) opposition of the servants. The theatrical scene may depict a comedy of the period, but it should not escape to the attentive observer that this is also an allegory of social opposition, which strangely shows two Quaternities in interaction as well as mediating forces. According to this interpretation, the carts appear also as “characters” in this picture, each with two well-defined parts: the wheels and the cabins (which in each case separate the upper-class personage from the ground and contain the odd gesticulating passenger.  The character in the robe at the back may be a representative of the Legal professions (?) but this is not certain from the information I have.


Les Deux carrosses by Claude Gillot  (Louvre Museum )

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Claude_Gillot_-_Les_deux_carrosses_(vers_1707).JPG