July 27, 2011

Reading Material: A Frenchman in England

My thoughtful coworker pointed this new title out to me the other day, and I had to share!

Set in 18th century England, this book is a mini-journey back in time. Francois de la Rochford and his brother, Alexandre, spent a year in England at the insistence of their father. Their father happened to be the grand master of wardrobe for Louis XVI, so they better off than most.

Francois kept a journal of all they saw and did on the island. The journal paints a clear and fascinating picture of life in late 18th century England, of course, from a Frenchman's perspective. Francois' journal has been edited and translated by historian Norman Scarfe. If you are interested in 18th century customs, manners and daily life I suggest you check out A Frenchman's Year in Suffolk: French Impressions of Suffolk Life in 1784.

La Rochefoucauld, François, Norman Scarfe, Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, and Maximilien de Lazowski. 1988. A Frenchman's year in Suffolk: French impressions of Suffolk life in 1784 : including a preliminary week in London, brief visits to Cambridge, Colchester, Mistley and Harwich and a fortnight's tour of Norfolk. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press.  ISBN 9780851155081

July 25, 2011

Marie Antoinette is all luck at games


The evening the Comte d'Artois and his new wife were married, Louis XV hosted a grand reception for the couple at Versailles.  Besides offering wonderful food, drink and entertainment, several gaming tables were set up.  Marie Antoinette found herself seated to play a game of lansquenet (this was a popular card game- it may sound familiar as it was mentioned in the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses.)

During one round the dauphine, only eighteen years old at the time, won big! She earned more than 1,200 louis.  She was a bit embarrassed at winning so much of her company's money that she spent the rest of the evening trying to gamble it away! With luck on her side that night, she left the table with 700 in remaining winnings.

The next day she was determined to get rid of the money, and with the help of the Comte de Mercy, she sent 50 to each of the parishes at Versailles, and distributed the rest to her servants and the poor. 


July 19, 2011

Travel Tuesday: 18th century places, people and parties

Stuck at home? Work? Or are you staying in to escape the northeastern heat waves?

I have a huge folder called places and it is one of my favorite files of images. I put together this video of places from the 18th century.  Starting in the country and areas just outside Paris, are images of people busy, moving through streets, farms or markets.

After this the images change from black and white to color, with ladies moving through promenades, to parties and card games.  The trip ends with several grand buildings.

So consider this your 5 minute 'escape' on an otherwise slow Tuesday!


July 15, 2011

Exhibtion: Le XVIII au Goût du Jour/A Taste of the 18th Century

Versailles is hosting a new exhibition: Le XVII au Gout du Jour/ A Taste of the 18th Century.  The exhibition is curated by Olivier Saillard and is on view at Versailles through October 9, 2011.

Saillard shows us how our current fashions are not so far removed from the past, if not by functionally then at least by inspiration.  Contemporary pieces are paired with historic ones, creating a unique flow through the show.  You may find that you will not be comparing old to new. Instead the pieces seem to work together rather than pronounce differences.

This is no new concept here, as we often make comparisons between today's fashion and that of the 18th century.  You will remember the recent post on Christian Louboutin's amazing new campaign and the historical inspired fashion that turned heads at the Royal Ascot.  To view more items from this show (contemporary and historical), visit the exhibition website.



Maison Christian Dior
Left : Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 2004/2005. Red moire and velours dress decorated with blue and white embroidery. Collection archives of the Maison Dior. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin.
Right : Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 2007/2008. Pink shot silk taffeta dress, veiled with candy pink tulle. “Doutzen Kroes” dress inspired by Fragonard. Collection archives of the Maison Dior. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin.

Yohji Yamamoto
Left : Ready-to-wear, Spring/Summer 2011. Waistcoat, shirt, breeches. Collection archives Yohji Yamamoto. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin.
Right : Ready-to-wear, Spring/Summer 2011. Black and blue outfit: shirt, jacket, breeches. Collection archives Yohji Yamamoto. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin.

Vivienne Westwood
Left : Ready-to-wear evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1995/96. Pink and pale blue duchesse satin. Model inspired by the portrait of Madame de Pompadour by Boucher. Collection: “Vive la Cocotte”. Collection Vivienne Westwood Ltd.
Right : Ready-to-wear evening dress, Spring/Summer 1996. Duchesse satin with black, blue, pink and yellow print, trimmed with lace, silk tulle apron. Collection “Les Femmes”. Collection Vivienne Westwood Ltd. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin


Jean Paul Gaultier
Right: Collection: “Les Marquis touaregs” Haute couture, Spring/Summer 1998. Leather jacket with faded organza leaves. Leather trousers. Collection archives of the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin. 
Left: © Château de Versailles / Jean-Marc Manaï / Christian Milet

Balenciaga par Nicolas Ghesquière
Ready-to-wear dress, Spring/Summer 2006. Flesh-coloured satin organza, embroidered medallion, undergarments in ecru lace. Collection archives of the Maison Balenciaga. © Marcio MADEIRA / Zeppelin.

July 12, 2011

In the Coffee House

Saw this cover today and had to share!  Very funny.  You may particularly appreciate the advertisement for Marie Antoinette's blog on the wall!

July 11, 2011

Fine Art and Barbie for the Museum Collection

When I saw these I had to share them! Barbie now has a Museum Collection line, with dolls inspired by artists and their masterpieces.  More shocking, are the reasonable prices.  There are currently three in the collection and I would be interested in what they select next.

Wouldn't you love to see a Barbie inspired by Watteau or Fragonard?  What would the Jacques-Louis David Barbie wear?  Check out all the fine-art inspired dolls (below)



Barbie inspired by Gustav Klimt
Designed by: Linda Kyaw
Release Date: 6/16/2011


Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Oil, silver and gold on canvas, 1907. Neue Galerie.

July 08, 2011

A little light reading for the weekend

I am having another one of those crazy weeks, and I am so happy we have reached the weekend.  Yesterday, in mid July, I was caught in a hailstorm (yes, hail) in new sandals. And it just gets crazier from there! So I intend to 'escape' this weekend, by a pool with a book.

For months I have been collecting a list (ever growing) of books that I want to read.  I keep printing out these pages with the titles on them, and the pile is a bit overwhelming. I am the type to get totally lost in a book. (latest reads include the A Song of Ice and Fire series [Game of Thrones] and a Tale of Two Cities)

I know I will not get to all of them anytime soon but I thought this weekend I would go pick one up to start.  Which one should I get?  Here are a few of the books from my pile, if you want to read one or have, let me know how it is!


McGregor, James H. 2009. Paris from the Ground Up. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.  This is a history of the city, focused on its wonderful art and architecture. Needless to say this is topping my list!


 Ogee, Frederic. 2005. "Better In France?": The Circulation Of Ideas Across The Channel In The Eighteenth Century (The Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture). Lewisburg [Pa.]: Bucknell University Press. Is it always greener on the other side of the fence? Or in France? This is about cultural exchange between the island and the continent, covering the 18th century.



 Gildea, Robert. 2008. Children of the Revolution: The French, 1799-1914. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.  This book focuses on the generations that lived through and after the revolution, and their attempts to develop a cohesive world.


 Brown, Kathleen M. 2009. Foul Bodies: Cleanliness in Early America. New Haven: Yale University Press. About attitudes towards dirt, "cleanliness-and the lack of it- had moral, religious and often sexual implications."  Interesting!


 Wolff, Martha. 2011. Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago.  I have really wanted to check this one out, it is full of art (paintings, sculptures, stained glass, metalwork etc.) created for kings and queens and inspired by the Italian Renaissance.


Cowart, Georgia. 2008. The Triumph of Pleasure: Louis XIV and the Politics of Spectacle. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.This title is more focused on the music and theatre of the court of Louis XIV than art, but sounds so good I am sure I will love it.




I think this pretty much sums up how I felt this week: 


have a good weekend!!

July 06, 2011

Art du jour! La Jeune fille punie

Michel Garnier, La Jeune fille punie. Oil on canvas, 1794.  Sale Of Sotheby's Monaco: 6/16/1989.

July 01, 2011

Advice to Marie Antoinette

While thinking about Will and Kate's recent reception in Canada, as they are on their royal tour, I couldnt help but think of this story about Marie Antoinette. 

One day in 1771, when she was just 15 years old, a new bride and at her new home in France, she chose to walk on a beautiful day from Marly to Versailles.  Once word got out that the dauphine had embarked on a walk (about 5 miles) it was only natural for people to start gathering so that they could catch a glimpse of the young Dauphine! Here is the comte de Mercy's account:

"The people who had assembled to watch her pass were transported with joy. When she arrived at the entrance to the park of Versailles the Dauphine perceived a great crowd and disappeared like a flash, and still on foot."

So she arrived to Versailles and there were tons of people standing around, just waiting to catch a glimpse of her.  At 15, she started to run quickly away.  Mercy did not quite understand why she ran so he asked her about it.  She responded that she had ran away because there were so many people.  The clever comte took this moment as a learning experience and reminded her that she should pay attention to the people, greet them and let them see her while being graceful, and "not showing any repugnance."  Happy Friday!