|Dried squash holds headless French king's blood: study in the journal Forensic Science International|
Antoine-François Callet, Louis XVI, roi de France et de Navarre (1754-1793), revêtu du grand costume royal en 1779.
By: Veronique Martinache
PARIS (AFP).- Two centuries after the French people beheaded Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, scientists believe they have authenticated the remains of one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir.
Researchers have been trying for years to verify a claim imprinted on an ornately decorated calabash that it contains a sample of the blood of the French king guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793.
The dried, hollowed squash is adorned with portraits of revolutionary heroes and the text: "On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation".
He is then believed to have placed the fabric in the gourd, and had it embellished.
The sinister souvenir has been in the private hands of an Italian family for more than a century, said the team of experts from Spain and France which published its findings in the journal Forensic Science International.
Two years ago, analysis of DNA taken from blood traces found inside the ornate vegetable revealed a likely match for someone of Louis' description, including his blue eyes.
But not having the DNA of any kingly relation, researchers could not prove beyond doubt that the blood belonged to Louis.
Using the genetic material, the team managed to draw a link to another gruesome artefact -- a mummified head believed to belong to Louis' 16th century predecessor, Henri IV.
In so doing, they provided evidence for authenticating both sets of remains -- uncovering a rare genetic signature shared by two men separated by seven generations.
"This study shows that (the owners of the remains) share a genetic heritage passed on through the paternal line. They have a direct link to one another through their fathers," French forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier told AFP.
The revolution in which Louis and queen Marie-Antoinette lost their heads in public executions also saw mobs ransack the royal chapel at Saint-Denis, north of Paris -- hauling ancient monarchs like Henri from their tombs and mutilating the remains which they tossed into pits.
An individual was recorded to have rescued a severed head from the chaos.
Long thought to belong to Henri, assassinated at the age of 57 by a Catholic fanatic in 1610, the head changed hands several times over the next two centuries, bought and sold at auction or kept in secretive private collections.
Scientists in 2010 said they found proof that the head was indeed Henri's, citing physical features that matched 16th century portraits of the king, as well as radiocarbon dating, 3D scanning and X-rays.
The 2010 study, however, found no DNA and its findings have been contested by some.
With the new evidence, "it is about 250 times more likely that the (owners of the) head and the blood are paternally related, than unrelated," co-author Carles Lalueza Fox of the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva in Barcelona told AFP by email.
Taken together with all the physical and forensic evidence, historical records and folklore, it would be "extremely surprising" if the remains did not belong to the two assassinated monarchs, he added.
"One can say that there is absolutely no doubt anymore," about the authenticity of the mummified head, added Charlier.
The DNA data obtained from Louis XVI could now be used to decipher the genetic code of France's last absolute monarch and his living relatives.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse
January 2, 2013
Exhibition brings over 100 paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec to the National Gallery of Australia
Arte Povera: The great awakening of a new art movement in Italy on view at Kunstmuseum Basel
Photo Booth Art: The Aesthetics behind the Curtain, from the Surrealists to Rainer and Warhol at Kunst Haus Wien
Dried squash holds headless French king's blood: study in the journal Forensic Science International
Royal Academy of Arts presents Mariko Mori's first major exhibition in London since 1998
Tate Modern to present the UK's first major exhibition of Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi
Exhibition celebrates the postcard craze that revolutioned communication at turn of the 20th century
Philippines set to quit Marcos wealth chase, more than half the supposed $10 billion fortune still missing
Simon Evans & Öyvind Fahlström "First we make the rules, then we break the rules" at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf
Mexico City's government trying to transform one of the world's largest cities by beautifying public spaces
Exhibition at Kunsthalle in Vienna highlights artist Leigh Bowery's life and work
Artifacts recently unearthed appear to pinpoint the location of key Hatfield-McCoy battle
"The Life of Japanese Paintings": Exhibition on view at the Langen Foundation in Neuss
George Eastman House's Dryden Theatre undergoing major renovation
Plan for NYC Ferris wheel rolls on, despite Sandy
World famous milliner offers an unrivaled look at hat design
First New York solo exhibition with artist Marina Zurkow to open at bitforms gallery
French music hall treasures go on sale
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Regrets: Upper Belvedere opens exhibition featuring recent work by Jasper Johns
2.- Swedish-born star of La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg, has died in Rome at the age of 83
3.- Swedish archaeologists find rare 2,500-year-old relief depicting two pharaonic deities
4.- 'American Dreams: Paintings by John Mellencamp' opens at the Morris Museum of Art
5.- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum welcomes Nathaniel Silver as Assistant Curator of the Collection
6.- Art Institute names new curator: Rebecca Long will be responsible for Italian and Spanish art
7.- The 'Holy Grail' of electric guitars, the original Les Paul 'Black Beauty' prototype, up for auction at Guernsey's
8.- 10,000 photos taken between 1840 and 1920 from Jerome Manin's collection to be sold
9.- Special Asterix cartoons to honour French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo dead
10.- The art world uncovered: Art travel experiences like you've never seen before
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|