From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Rose Keller affair is one of the Marquis de Sade 's first major scandals. At about 9 hours on the morning of April 3rd, 1768, Easter Day at the place des Victoires, Rose Keller is picked up by the Marquis de Sade and taken back to a cottage in Arcueil, where she was bound and flogged. She escaped by climbing out of a second-floor window and running away.
Whether Keller was a prostitute or not is widely disputed. He was accused of imprisoning her against her will and sexually and physically abusing her. Its historiography was completed by Maurice Lever in 1933, who researched the official records of this case in the Archives Nationales and those of the Chatelet de Paris.
Lever describes her as a ”a widow, was a cotton spinner by trade who had been out of work for a month and reduced to begging in the streets."
Sade offers her one écu. She says that she is not who he thinks he is (a prostitute). They take a carriage to his cottage in Arcueil. There he asks her to take of her clothes. She refuses. He threatens her with death and she obliges and strips.
He binds her with cords to a red divan and starts to flog her with knotted rope or a bundle of rods. Some accounts state that he then made small incisions in her flesh with a pocket knife and pours hot white wax on the open wounds.
He unties her, lets her dress and wash herself, brings her food and a vial of liquid with which he recommends to rub herself. She complies. He then locks her up in a room on the upper floor, and leaves.
Rose escapes through the window by tying sheets to a rope. Langlois, servant of Sade, la catches up with her and begs her to come back, promising her money. She refuses.
She tells her story to several women in the village, they take her to castle of Charles Lambert, notar of the village of Arcueil. Lambert being absent, la Bernadière is sent for who takes her deposition around 20h and sends for the doctor Pierre-Paul Le Comte to examin her.
Contradictions exist between the depositions of Rose Keller and Sade :
- Rose Keller has always maintained that she was tricked and never new in which adventure she was taken.
- Sade affirms that she knew very well that she was in for a "partie de libertinage."
- About the wax:
Rose Keller says that Sade used two kinds of wax
Sade admits having used the white wax but not the red one. The difference is important, white wax is beeswax and inoffensive, even when hot. The red wax is dangerous and can cause burning wounds.
- About the ropes:
Rose Keller says she was tied up.
The doctor does not report ropemarks.
- About the rods
Rose Keller speaks of a fistful of rods.
Sade of a simple rope with knots.
- About the incisions
Rose Keller declares to have been incised with a small knife or pocket knife.
Sade negates this firmly.
Keller is given money and drops the charges. She remarries
It was at this time that la Présidente, Sade's mother-in-law, obtained a lettre de cachet from the king, excluding Sade from the jurisdiction of the courts. The lettre de cachet (a royal order of arrest and imprisonment, without stated cause or access to the courts) would later prove disastrous for the marquis.
Subsequently, Sade is incarcerated at the château de Saumur, for 18 days.
After that in the Pierre-Encise prison, for one month.
Transferred to the conciergerie, the marquis appears before the Grande Chambre on June 10 1768. He is taken back to Pierre-Encise, and is released in November 1768, and is told to retire on his estate in La Coste.
Texts in the public domain mentioning Rose Keller
- "The Revolutionary Ideas Of The Marquis De Sade"
- "Les filles publiques sous la Terreur; d'après les ...
- "Psychoanalysis and love"
- "L'oeuvre du Marquis de Sade : pages choisies ...
- "Almas y cerebros; historias sentimentales ...
- "Les seins dans l'histoire"
- "Le cabinet secret de l'histoire"
- "L'Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux"