04.11Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 04.11

April 28, 2011

First Impressions Count

image source
Before her royal wedding, the Duchess of Lauzun had never met her husband to be.  Amélie was engaged to the Armand Gontaut-Biron, who would become the duc de Lauzun. The boy was gifted with both ambition and charm (and he wasn't hard on the eyes either!)

He had had a few flings here and there, so one can imagine the suspense to an engagement with a lady he did not know.  What did he know? She was very accomplished.  Raised by a grandmother who was an infamous member of the court of Louis XV, Amélie was well versed in court etiquette.  Elegant and graceful, she had been described as "exquisitely beautiful."  Elegance and grace certainly don't hurt a girl's beauty!

So it may not be surprising that the young duc had to see his beautiful bride to be.  An arrangement was made for him to attend a ball where Amélie would also be in attendance.  He would go in a disguise as not to be recognized by the guests.  When he got there,  he saw his bride, and was happily captivated by her beauty!

Unfortunately for Amélie, her husband-to-be was admiring the beauty of a Mademoiselle de Roth. Oops!  When he figured out his error, and saw Amélie, as exquisite as she was, her beauty paled in comparison to Mademoiselle de Roth.  A circumstance beyond her control, the duc had a bad first impression, and never let go of that!

April 27, 2011

Now this is a Royal Wedding Gown!

Of course you all remember this gown, it hit the aisle at the royal wedding of Edwige Elizabeth Charlotte Holstein-Gottorp in 1774.  It is over the top, layered, full of silver spangles, and has a very detailed bodice.  The panniers are over sized, it would be no tough guess as to who the bride was.  Fortunately the dance numbers were accommodating to the dress of the period!

It is in amazing condition and was recently on view at the exhibition Court Pomp and Royal Ceremony.

 Now imagine it under the glow of a hundred flickering candles! <3

Johanna Öst, 2009. Digital Photograph. Website.

April 26, 2011

Royal Wedding: Wedding Bliss or Miss

 After rumors circulated that he was to marry Adelaide, the king's daughter, the Duc de Chartres' luck took an unexpected turn.  Of course, there was nothing wrong with marrying a daughter of France, but the suggested match never fully fabricated.  In fact, had he had his way, he may well have married one of the daughters, but not Adelaide (he had eyes for Anne Henriette de France!) The young duc, who was only 18, was hot on the market, and his father was ready for the boy to settle down and live a wholesome life.

Daughters of France aside, a bride was chosen for this bachelor duc, Louise Henriette de Bourbon Conti, who strutted around Versailles as Mademoiselle Conti.  She was absolutely stunning.  The couple had a winter wedding, December of 1743.  The ceremony was held in the chapel of Versailles (same chapel Marie Antoinette was married in years later) and the couple was married by the famous Cardinal de Rohan.  The entire royal family attended the ceremony, including the duc's old flame, Henriette (below).

Adelaide (left) Anne Henriette (right)
The duc's puppy love for his cousin faded quickly once he was wed to Louise Henriette.  The couple were enamored with each other, and they were not afraid of a little PDA.  In what was described as "ridiculous" and "almost scandal" the couple affectionately began their wedded lives in what can only be described as true happiness.

The Honeymoon Ends
The hot passion these two newlyweds shared started to fade a few years after they started their lives together. Six years after the wedding at Versailles, reports of the duc's living were less than desirable.  He was staying out until all hours of the night, gaming, and in debt.  He drank too much and hung out with society far below his rank.  Overall he seemed to be having a good time.

His beloved wife was keeping herself very busy with a lover, and was rumored to have several lovers aside from her constant.  This scandal was made public in 1751 when the duc finally told his wife enough was enough.  He made it very clear that she was not to see the lover again ...or else..she would be sent away to a convent!

Louise Henriette had grown up in one, and was not ready to go back.  She threw a fit and refused to even dine with her husband. (ps she was also pregnant at this point...but by who...!) Needless to say things didn't look so good. For whatever reason, the couple reconciled, but Louise Henriette passed away in 1759 just 32 years old. It didn't take long for rumors to spread that the cause of her early death was due to her unfaithful wedded life. 

April 21, 2011

Rome: as seen in the 18th century

Rome is said to have been founded on April 21st, by Romulus and Remus.  To celebrate the mark on our calendars ( you did mark this date down right?) here are some 18th century views of the famous capital.

Hubert Robert, Picturesque View of the Capitol in Rome. Oil on canvas. Musée des beaux-arts.

Panini, Giovanni.,View of Rome from North from below Monte Mario. 1749, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin--Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

April 20, 2011

Who Wore it Better?

Frédérique Louise Wilhelmine and Mrs. Francis Russell. Both ladies wear day gowns in white, with diaphanous layers. Accessorized with a pastel silk ribbon around the waist to enhance both a slim waistline and femininity. Who wore it better?

Johann Heinrich Tischbein I, Frédérique Louise Wilhelmine, Princess of Orange-Nassau. 1788, oil on canvas. Musée des beaux-arts.

 George Romney, Mrs. Francis Russell.  1785-87, oil on canvas. The Art Institute of Chicago. 

Who wore it better?

April 18, 2011

Royal Wedding...dress! Marie-Louise de Parma

Anton Raphael Mengs, Marie-Louise de Parma as a Bride. 1765, oil on canvas. Museo del Prado.

Here is Marie-Louise de Parma, in her splendid wedding gown, at age 13!  Granddaughter of Louis XV, she married her cousin,  Charles IV of Spain in 1765.  Her wedding gown is light and layered, with soft pinks, floral greens and ivory. Diamonds and pearls mix to showcase her status, and she wears a bracelet with a miniature portrait of her betrothed on it.

April 16, 2011

The Republic of Letters

The above image shows the path of letters from 1700-1751 in England.   Correspondence was coming and going from major cities and within counties.  Stanford Uni has created the project Electronic Enlightenment, and you can view the interactive tool to see where letters were going during these years.  You can view specific cities or just drag the map around to see paths.  There is also an option to select correspondents, whose letters were going where. The project is based on a large sample of correspondence from the period.  My favorite option is the flow!

Sadly there are only 2 letters represented for Louis XV's correspondence! 

 View the project here.

Oh yea, and another project:

April 15, 2011

Royal Wedding at Versailles: interpretation

Inspired by all the talk of Royal Weddings, I have compiled some lush images straight from Sofia Coppola's 2006 interpretation of Marie Antoinette's royal wedding.  The wedding was only a brief chapter in the movie, but the filming, costumes, decor and choreography were very impressive.  The ceremony was shot in quite a bit more detail than I had expected, and even the reception is included (with full dances and toasts!).  Reception photos after the jump!

Ok everyone, enjoy all the royal wedding fuss! Lets have a relaxing weekend. Pull out the pearls and hey, why not open a bottle of champagne? Cheers!

Oh wait that is not all.... more photos! (as I looked through these it is like an 18th century wedding album lol)

April 13, 2011

Wedding fever, do we all have it?

Reading this description of Marie Antoinette's wedding day at Versailles may sound all too similar.  I bet there will be a similar scene this Friday, except hopefully no rain!

"At this moment all Paris is at Versailles. The people have been coming on foot since daybreak. The citizens have been arriving, some on hired horses, some in cabs, some in carriages from livery stables. The park is thronged by an immense crowd. Alas! The sad omens are about to be renewed. At three in the afternoon the sky is overcast by clouds Rain pours down in torrents. The thunder rumbles. Every one seeks shelter.

But if the approaches to the chateau are dismal in the evening, it is dazzling within. All the splendors of aristocracy riches luxury and the fine arts are accumulated there."

Description of the day of the Royal Wedding at Versailles, for Marie Antoinette and Louis. From Imbert de Saint-Amand, and Elizabeth Gilbert Martin. 1893. Last years of Louis XV. New York: C. Scribner's sons.

April 11, 2011

That is one hell of a loaf! The Quality of Bread in France prior to the Storming of the Bastille

Vallayer-Coster, Anne, White Soup Bowl. 1771, oil on canvas.

Here is a fascinating account of the quality of bread in France right before the storming of the Bastille. Although this individual had the means to secure himself a decent bit of bread, you can just imagine the horror of those who could not, or if they did, received the worst of the worst.

"The nearer the 14th of July approached," says an eye-witness,' "the more did the dearth increase. 
Every baker's shop was surrounded by a crowd, to which bread was distributed with the most grudging economy... This bread was generally blackish, earthy, and bitter, producing inflammation of the throat and pain in the bowels.

I have seen flour of detestable quality at the military school and at other depots. I have seen portions of it yellow in colour, with an offensive smell; some forming blocks so hard that they had to be broken into fragments by repeated blows of a hatchet.

For my own part, wearied with the difficulty of procuring this poor bread, and disgusted with that offered to me at the tables d'hote, I avoided this kind of food altogether. In the evening I went to the Cafe du Caveau, where, fortunately, they were kind enough to reserve for me two of those rolls which are called flutes, and this is the only bread I have eaten for a week at a time."

Galart de Montjoie. ["French Society before the Revolution."] In Histoire de la Révolution de France. S.l.: s.n., 1797. 53, ch. XXIX, quoted in Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution,(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1913), 4.

April 09, 2011

The Borgias Episode 1

Sunday night the second episode of the new tv series The Borgias will air.  If you missed last weeks episode (the premier), check it out now! I would love to hear what you thought of it! Will you be watching the full season?

The Borgias, Season 1, Episode 1

April 08, 2011

18th Century inspired: Hair and Fashion

"18th century inspired" posts feature some current items or trends I have come across that are inspired by our favorite century! As always, post your findings here in the links or email them to me and I will add them to the list! This batch of items is all about creating a contemporary look with 18th century flair!

Fashion and hair ideas...these photographs by Erum Rizvi (@misserum) feature the pouf with a modern twist, tied with contemporary clothing, and yes I think we could wear this any time.  Even the hair styles are fine by me! (maybe not for the work place, but we are ready for the weekend here!) Lovely!

Images via erumrizvi.com

BHLDN has a new campaign out that states "Pretty, Witty & Bright" - totally describes all of us here! First of all, I would love to know where this photo set was taken, I LOVE the interior.  Just being there and I would feel fabulous enough!

Secondly they have some great accessories and shoes, I can only imagine the inspiration.  I am thinking Georgiana!  Heather posted about the Duchess of Devonshire's wedding and the gold ornaments she wore to her wedding and Two Nerdy History Girls posted on her gold wedding dress, and I can't help but think these shoes would go so well with it!

Ok on to make up!  This video shows what  you need to create a Marie Antoinette look inspired by the Trianon-phase the queen experienced in the 2006 movie, Marie Antoinette: (super pretty)

Sport the footwear of the times, freshly made, these shoes are called "Georgiana" and are currently on pre-sale for a discounted price, so grab your pair before it is too late (as in April 22!) via Danae