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Seven Crystal Balls: Did Edmund Dulac influence Hergé?

#1 · Posted: 16 Jul 2017 23:16
This is entirely speculative, but I think it might warrant discussion... I've posted this over on the Facebook page as well, where you can see the Dulac image about which I am writing.

I've written before about the long shadow cast over The Seven Crystal Balls by the presence of Rascar Capac, and my surprise that he appears in only eight frames of the story, three as a "real" mummy, and five during Tintin's nightmare, and in one of those Rascar Capac is only just peeping over the window-sill.
He's a very memorable "character", and contributes a lot to the story.

Now, I know that there is a real-world model for the mummy in the Art & History Museum (formerly known as the Cinquantenaire Museum), and that this was used in the researches for this adventure undertaken for Hergé by E.P. Jacobs.

But I recently came across an illustration by Edmund Dulac for the Hans Andersen story The Nightingale, which shows Death, perched on the bed of the Emperor of China, being moved by the song of the titular bird, and was struck by the many similarities between Dulac's spectral figure, and the visit to Tintin's bedroom by the dead Inca.

Both are grey figure, emaciated and ghastly; both are dressed in elaborate jeweled regalia; and both scenes are set at night, in a bed-chamber.

It may just be coincidence, or did Hergé (or perhaps Jacobs) recall the scene from childhood? I think the English version was published in 1911, which would be appropriate to Hergé's age, but was a French version published, and would he have come across it?

It's quite a haunting image, so I think it might be possible that he knew it.

Any thoughts or comments?
#2 · Posted: 17 Jul 2017 01:57
According to the website of the Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris, a French edition of Andersen's tales, illustrated by Dulac, was published in 1911 and did include The Nightingale.

This webpage includes a slideshow and the last five 5 images are photos of pages of the French edition.

It's therefore not impossible that Hergé and/ or Jacobs saw that picture and that Tintin's nightmare was inspired by it.
The way the Emperor lies in bed, powerless as Death holds him down, is very similar to Tintin's own predicament in the dream in Crystal Balls.

I always found that particular scene very creepy: the way the living skeleton suddenly appears at the window with an evil grin and how Tintin remains with his back turned and covered in beads of sweat, as if he is aware of his doom but can do nothing to prevent it.
#3 · Posted: 17 Jul 2017 22:28
a French edition of Andersen's tales, illustrated by Dulac, was published in 1911 and did include The Nightingale

Ah, thanks for that! At least it establishes the possibility of a childhood familiarity with the story and its illustrations in the Dulac version, for both Jacobs and Hergé.

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