Patrick D’Arcy and Eileen Gray

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2010), Letters, Volume 18

Sir,—In her article ‘A dynamic Irishman in Paris: Patrick d’Arcy, 1725–79’ (HI 18.2, March/April 2010), Mary Stratton Ryan quotes an 1845 article from the Freeman’s Journal to the effect that ‘A mason employed at the ancient chapel of St Philip du Roule has discovered a leaden coffin of ancient form [inscribed with the name of Patrick d’Arcy] . . . theCuré of St Philippe has given orders to lower the coffin into the vaults of that Church’. According to Miss Stratton Ryan, ‘He rests there still’.

I think that Miss Stratton Ryan might have a scoop. Intrigued by the article, I went recently to Saint Philippe du Roule in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and showed it to the church deacon. He told me that the vault of Saint Philippe du Roule is empty of any sign of burial bar two caskets: one contains the remains of a nineteenth-century bishop and the second is unidentified. A search in church records dating back to 1820 failed to turn up any mention of Patrick d’Arcy being interred or re-interred in the crypt. Therefore, the local church authorities would be most interested in any proof that Miss Stratton Ryan can provide to show that the unidentified casket contains the remains of Count d’Arcy. Miss Stratton Ryan further mentions that Place d’Arcy in Dijon is named after Patrick D’Arcy. In fact, Place Darcy is named after a local-born hydraulic engineer called Henry Philibert Gaspard Darcy (1803–58).
Patricia O’Reilly’s ‘Furniture as art: the work of Eileen Gray’ (HI 18.3, May/June 2010) also contains a couple of glaring typos/errors. Eileen Gray’s Paris gallery, Jean Désert, was located on the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, not the ‘rue du Faubourg’. The Conservatoire du Littoral is misspelt and is not ‘dedicated to the protection of valuable resources’ but rather more modestly to the preservation of parts of the French coastline and its protection from overdevelopment.
My research into Eileen Gray’s burial place has also produced results that differ from those of Miss O’Reilly, who states that ‘She is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, but because her family omitted to pay the licence fee her grave is not identifiable’. In fact, upon her death in 1976, Eileen Gray’s body was cremated and placed in niche 17616 in the Columbarium at Père Lachaise. With no next-of-kin found to renew the lease, the authorities took back ownership of the niche on 5 February 1998 and quickly leased it out again.—Yours etc.,
ISADORE RYAN
Paris
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