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In the aftermath of the Paris atrocities, intellectuals have turned to enlightenment thinkers to refute religious orthodoxy. “I kept thinking of Voltaire,” writes scholar Robert Darnton in an essay for NYRB, “And calling up his famous grin — lips curled and lower jaw stuck out, as if to defy anyone who might dare to pull a punch.” That impish, thin-lipped smile is now on view at the Château de Versailles. In response to the attacks, the palace has rehung a portrait of the revolutionary 18th-century French writer in a central hall, the New York Times reports. “What is Tolerance?” reads a nearby quote by the philosopher in French and English. “It is the consequence of humanity.”

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A fire broke out at an historic 17th century mansion in Paris on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, destroying artworks dating back hundred of years. The mansion, known as Hotel Lambert, was acquired by the Qatari royal family in 2007 and was in the midst of controversial renovations when the blaze took place. The fire devastated murals, paintings and frescoes by French luminaries such as Charles Le Brun (1619-1690).

The architect Louis Vau designed Hotel Lambert, which overlooks the Seine, in the 1640s for the wealthy financier, Nicolas Lambert. The mansion is considered one of the finest examples of mid-17th-century French architecture, boasting frescoes by Le Brun and other masters of the day including Eustache Le Sueur (1617-1655). In addition to its impressive interior, the Hotel Lambert was home to many powerful figures over the centuries including the philosopher, Voltaire. When the Qatari royal family purchased the mansion, critics feared that one of France’s historic gems would be destroyed, especially after the family revealed plans to renovate the estate.

Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze at the UNESCO-designated mansion for nearly six hours. The cause of the fire has not been determined and is still under investigation by police.

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