The Blason Vogue


Because of his suspected role in the 1534 “Affaire des Placards,” Clément Marot fled to the protestant sympathizing court of Ferrara, where he launched a new literary fashion with his "Blason du Tetin", also called the "Beau Tetin" (“The Beautiful Breast”).

Building on the success of his first blason, Marot organized a poetic contest for blasons of the female body. Maurice Scève won the competition with his description of what neoplatonists deemed one of the noblest and most elevated in the hierarchy of body parts, "Le Sourcil," the eyebrow.

Following the first series of blasons praising the beauty of various parts of the female anatomy (often in a Platonic mode, but sometimes in a more licentious tone), Marot and the other poets turned their focus to composing contreblasons, mocking less admirable and ugly parts of the female body. Marot's own "Contreblason du Tetin", also called the "Laid Tetin" ("The Ugly Breast"), launched the contreblason fad. All of the contreblason poems in this edition, apart from Marot’s, were written by Charles de la Hueterie and dedicated to François Sagon.

The most well-known of the blasonneurs today are Clément Marot and Maurice Scève, but many other contemporary poets contributed to the volume, including Béranger de la Tour and Jean de Vauzelles.

A facsimile of the 1554 edition of the Blasons/contreblasons (A Paris : De la bouticque de Nicolas Chrestien..., 1554) is available in .pdf format from Gallica.