08.09Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 08.09

August 30, 2009

The Fashionable Male

The fashion that dominated for eighteenth century men: suits.  The jackets had coat skirts (full and fancy) and the trousers were short.  In warm seasons the trend was to wear silk, and limit embroidery. For cooler seasons the popular fabric was wool.

When Louis XVI and Antoinette took the throne a popular style was to have the waistcoat show a bit.  During their reign it was more stylish for men to dress in darker colors (Sorry I know you all love those baby pink silk ones!)


If you are interested in dressing the part of a fashionable male I have stumbled across a new store that sells such garments.  It is called Pimpernel Clothing and can be found here.  Take note that they are offering domestic and international free shipping!  If you are not looking for fashionable menswear, check out their historical playing cards!!

August 28, 2009

The Gardens of the Villa d'Este

The Gardens of the Villa d'Este, Tivoli (The Little Park), c. 1760

Fragonard worked for a month in Tivoli drawing and sketching. Possibly one of his most notable works to come out of his time there was The Gardens of the Villa d'Este, Tivoli (The Little Park). Done in oils, the composition is a view into the garden, where several figures work, relax and tour.

The foreground is lit by a warm glow, possibly from a sun spot, where two figures lounge near the guarding stone lions. A third figure pushes a barrel along the walkway and there are others behind him. The statute behind these figures lead the viewer up to the above garden area, which can be seen through engulfing foliage. The trees bend and create a frame for us, and the figures within are flanked by two large statutes on each side. Through this lush frame appears to be a wide open area, where the sun casts a general daylight and two figures wander, admiring the landscape.

As a whole, the dominating growth of nature really swallows the figures. They become small and almost ant like next to the bushy trees and vines which reach out towards them. Even the stone fencing is swallowed by the flourishing plants. They are not static either. They move and quiver in the wind, swirl around the scene and frame those within. They cast shadow and shade, while overwhelming all that is man-made.

August 26, 2009

The State of Things: April, 1794

Even the palaces and pleasure grounds of the ci-devant royalty are respected as national property, and , as such, are carefully preserved.

The greater part of the furniture has been removed from Versailles- some of the paintings remain. Those by the best Masters have been sent to the Gallery of the Louvre, which is now the National Museum, where the collection greatly exceeds any other exhibition of the fine arts in the world. It is under the care of a committee, appointed to protect the arts, and is maintained in the most superb style. Such is the war, which these Goths and Vandals wage against the arts!

The late Queen's favorite residence of St Cloud remains as when she occupied it . The paintings will be sent to the museum, and the furniture will be sold.
William Jackson April 1794

August 24, 2009

LOL, What?

It is that time of year again, good old Halloween is just 8 weeks away! So get ready for a full weekend of fancy dress and costume fun! Halloween falls on a Saturday this year giving everyone both Friday and Saturday to show off fabulous costumes, which are hopefully, lovely historical garb!!

As the costumes start to roll out we can highlight some here, but until then, what are you thinking? Any particular parts you want to play? Inspirations? Let me know!

August 21, 2009

Fragonard Friday: The New Model

Welcome to Fragonard Friday, today we are going to look at The New Model. The New Model was painted around 1770 and can be seen at the Musée Jaxquemart-André in Paris. At first glance the concept of the painting is very clear, a young first time model is at her first sitting with an artist.

There is limited detail in the background of the painting but we can tell that they are at the artist’s studio. His easel, maulstick and taboret complete with rags in preparation of the painting. The actual process of painting has yet to begin, we are seeing the moments just before. The artist has an idea, possibly she is to be a Venus, and we can see the scene being set.

The exhilaration of the new experience comes with a touch of nerves and she follows the directions of the artist on how to position herself. She holds herself up and her chaperon tries to arrange the fabric of her gown as desired by the artist. She does this by exposing the shoulders and bust, pushing her bodice down just so. She clearly has a good idea of how to set the girl up to look just right, rather rightly desirable? He too takes part of the set-up by adjusting or testing the placement of her skirts, lifting them up a bit.

The artist stands apart from the women, and slightly faces us. To adjust the skirts he does not fully move toward the sitter, merely uses his maulstick. (The maulstick is a light weight wooden tool artist would use by resting their hand/forearm on the top which had a soft padded area. This support would allow them to paint for long periods of time without resting their hand on the canvas.) Notice he is very handsome and young. His manner of dress suggest that he is good at what he does, and has decent clientele. In a peach silk or satin (yay or nay?) he casually leans against the tabornet. Possibly out going and full of charisma, he certainly appears confident in his pose and gesture.

The chaperon stands in contrast with the girl, dressed in full with dark colors and wearing a dark bonnet which is tied under her chin. Her dark locks are also stand out compared to the sitter’s powdered tresses. The new model is dressed in a billowing white garment, and only has a golden sash and rosy cheeks as a splash of color. Professor Mary Sheriff notes that there is not a moral tone to the artwork, unlike other similar 18th century pieces of the same variety. There is no modesty between the parties. The chaperon and artist work together to reveal the model’s assets. In response the model complies, accepting her new job and endures the evaluation.

August 20, 2009

Family Tree: Maria Theresa

When Charles VI and his wife, Elisabeth Christine, had their first child the year was 1716 and the whole empire rejoiced. It was a baby boy, and both parents could not have been more thrilled. Sadly, by fall that year the health of the baby had failed and he passed away. The following May a second child was born to the couple, and after the devastating blow of last year, there was even more rejoicing. Born on May 13, 1717 was their first daughter Maria Theresa. Cathedrals rang with bells and song, and that very evening she was baptized.

August 18, 2009

What Would Marie Do? (open to readers!)

Dear Marie,

Because I am a huge fan of 18th century life at the court of France, I decided Versailles could make a good theme for my birthday party.

I will try to make it out as a kind of role play, and so I chose a historical character for each of my friends and wrote each a description they should follow. Some of my friends promised they would perform music and poetry from the 18th century and I am working on the menu. The costumes are a problem, since most of us are not so good at making dresses by ourselves, but we will figure something out. But what else could I do to bring all the wonders of the court of Versailles to my birthday party? Any ideas?

Please help me to organize a good party!
Thank you in advance,

What a fun event you have planned! I am opening this question up to all readers because everyone here is very creative and I just know will have some wonderful ideas to infuse this party with an 18th century vibe. Here are some breif ideas:

One thing to consider is atmosphere! Elegant candles are always a scene setter, just be sure that they are safely placed where they wont be disturbed. I am a fan of rooms with low lighting if the party is in the evening.

What is more proper than playing a game of chance or card game at a table of friends? Some 18th century games would be sure to get the party going! Perhaps you can set up something like cavagnole or faro. If you want a more modern game that is quirky try Guillotine.

Cake and drink
See if you can find some sparkling grape juice and those cute faux champagne glasses! You can set them up in a tower and pour the bubbly drinks all night! The tower of glasses will look very luxe and your guest will feel glamours sipping their drinks! And of course, fancy pastries. mmm.

If you cant manage to find or put together some simple big skirts, you can always pull things off with accessories and great hair! Tease your hair up and have your girl's do the same, maybe buy some Aqua-net for the occasion. Stick some feather plumes in it and maybe some ribbon. Pick up some cheap glitzy costume jewelry to add a bit of opulence to your ensemble! And pick up some pretty fans, if they are not pretty decorate them yourself.

Alright, readers, please leave your ideas! And Chandrani, we will want to hear all about it when it happens!
Do you have a question fit for Marie or Georgiana?
Email Lauren or Heather!

August 16, 2009

On Paris....

"All that we read in Holy Writ of the excesses that were punished by the deluge, and of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, does not eve approach the life that is led in Paris. . . . Nothing is more rare than religious belief: no one is ashamed of vice . . . and if the King were asked to punish all those who deserved it, he would have neither princes, nobles or servants left . . . no house in France would be out of mourning. . . "

From a letter written by a foreign lady living in Paris back home to Germany

August 12, 2009

Men! Frocks! Historically Inspired Men's Wear

Historically inspired frocks for men:
Yay or nay?

Fashion fun or fashion faux pas?

Will you or your man be throwing these on once the leaves start to fall?
Leave thoughts!



Thierry Mugler

August 06, 2009

The Louvre en anglais!

I love the Louvre.

If you are a frequent visitor of the site you will have noticed that the Louvre has released its collection database in English! It will now reach and attract an enormous audience of English readers (estimated 2 million!)

The database is called ATLAS and provides information and images of over 22,000 items. It is easy to use, and provides dates, important information and supplementary information on most works. It even offers the items location in the museum. The images are great and can be enlarged for viewing details. There are alternative views of items, including specific close ups. It is great if you are researching, planning a trip, looking for inspiration or just love art!

Check out ATLAS

August 03, 2009

Rococo and Revolution

Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings
October 2, 2009, through January 3, 2010

If you happen to be in NYC between October and January, you will have to make a stop at the Morgan Library & Museum to see their fabulous show of French drawings. They will have works from artists such as Boucher, Fragonard and David. Here is a short description from their website:

"Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings features more than eighty exceptional drawings almost exclusively from the Morgan's renowned holdings. The efflorescence of the ancien régime and its eventual downfall provide the backdrop to a century of remarkable artistic vitality and variety that subtly chronicles the many changes taking place in eighteenth-century France. Artists represented in the exhibition include Antoine Watteau, Jacques-Louis David, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Claude Gillot, Nicolas Lancret, Hubert Robert, Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, Anne-Louis Girodet, and Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, among others."

There is not a better way to immerse yourself with the 18th century than to wander through a wonderful exhibition, surrounded by items that saw a different time. Heather and I will be there this fall and of course will report back, but I strongly suggest you make time in those 3 months to check it out in person! If you make it be sure to let me know what you thought!

*Fragonard, Landscape with Flocks and Trees