Maria — headpiece for "Maria. Moulines" in Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, first published in 1768. Artists: Bastin and G. Nichols, from original designs by Jacque and Fussell. Wood-engraving, 3.4 cm high by 7.7 cm wide, top third of p. 158. In the 1841 edition, the illustrators employ an image of the melancholy-mad shepherdess as the volume's frontispiece. Here, unaccompanied by either the goat or the faithful dog Sylvio, Maria contemplates the gravestone on her knees, with the village of Moulines on the distant horizon, so that we must infer that her father's grave is not within the village cemetery. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated

Just Heaven! it would fill up twenty volumes; and, alas! I have but a few small pages left of this to crowd it into; and half of these must be taken up with poor Maria, my friend Mr. Shandy met with near Moulines.

The story he had told me of that disordered maid affected me not a little in the reading; but when I got within the neighbourhood where she lived, it returned so strong into my mind, that I could not resist an impulse which prompted me to go half a league out of the road, to the village where her parents dwelt, to enquire after her. ["Maria. Moulines." — vignette of Maria at her father's grave, p. 158]


In "Sterne and Visual Culture" Peter De Voogd argues that the

reference to Tristram Shandy is an early example of product placement, the S on the handkerchief underscoring the possible identification of Sterne with his characters, and even suggesting an element of autobiography in the fiction; small wonder that travellers went on sentimental pilgrimages to Moulines in the hope of meeting Maria, or that texts appeared under titles like The Letters of Maria, with an Account of her Death in the Castle of Valerine (1790). As a stimulus to visual representation, the passage also hands the illustrator useful specifications such as the poplar tree, while also offering, in its delicate innuendoes and hints of self-mockery, considerable freedom of artistic choice. [De Voogd, p. 151]

Yorick's specifically "reading" Tristram's account of the melancholy mad Maria has whetted his appetite for personal interview with her, enabling Sterne's readers to identify with Yorick and to regard Maria as a character who exists equally in A Sentimental Journey and the ninth volume of Tristram Shandy. However, the reader cannot fully appreciate Maria's story without having encountered her in the previous book.

Relevant illustrations from the 1841 and 1857 editions

Left: Tony Jahannot's illustration of Yorick's coming upon the melancholy shepherdess outside Moulines, Maria of Moulines. Right: Jacque and Fussell's frontispiece for the 1841 volume depicting Maria and her dog Sylvio underneath the poplar tree not far from the village of Moulines, Maria.


De Voogd, Peter. "Sterne and Visual Culture." The Cambridge Companion to Laurence Sterne, ed. Thomas Keymer. Toronto and Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2009. Pp. 142-59.

"Elizabeth Jackaman looks at a painting ...Maria from Sterne, 1781 by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–97)." Online version available from Derbyshire Life and Countryside, April 2010 [updated: 17:06 20 February 2013]. Web. 22 September 2018.

Insane Maria. Kauffman, Anna Angelica Maria. (1768-81). Pic234. Oil on metal, oval, 31.1 cm by 25.4 cm. Online version available from Burley Collections. Burghley House Stamford, Lincs PE9 3JY 01780 752451. Web. 22 September 2018. See also oil on canvas, 65.5 x 65.5 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Illustrated with one hundred engravings on wood, by Bastin and G. Nichols, from original designs by Jacque and Fussell. London: Joseph Thomas, 1841.

Sterne, Laurence. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. With 100 illustrations by Tony Johannot. London: Willoughby, 1857.

Turner, Katherine. "Notes." Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768). Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2010.

Last modified 22 September 2018