La Chambre de Labastrie
Benedict de Saint-Maure describes in his Roman de Troie the Alabaster Chamber, a kind of guarded paradise, closed off, full of light, rounded by a wall made of beautiful alabaster. Its properties are similar to those of contemporary mirrors, as the ones who are inside can see the outside, but it remains impossible for those outside to see the inside of the chamber.
To see, while not being seen, this dream reveals the ambiguous craving and confirms the privileged status of the sight.
The series of portraits, as if of inhabitants of the chamber, sets an opposite parallel. The visitors, who are supposedly granted the privilege of sight a priori, become suddenly given the opposite role. The privilege is abruptly taken away from them and they quickly find themselves at the position of ones being observed (without being able to see) by what was supposed to be looked at (but wasn’t supposed to be able to observe).
In a sense, the characters portrayed always lose their original identity and get one where they are yet to be named by the poet. As such, they acquire a new role in the symbolic practice of the artist. Consequently, through their original identity being lost, they are immortalised as they become part of artist’s own mythology and thus art history.