May 24, 2012

Queen Victoria's Journals are now online

Elizabeth de Valois, Queen of Spain, and Elizabeth d'Autriche, Queen of France: pen and ink sketch by Princess Victoria

Queen Victoria started keeping a journal when she was 13 years old.  She continued to keep her journals, writing, sketching, and observing the world she lived in.  These are now available online (yes even the Queen's drawings!) An announcement was made today at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II launching the site, Queen Victoria's Journals. 

So take a step back in time and check out some of the journals!

The Queen remarked however, that her own journals would not be published!

May 21, 2012

18th Century Cosmetic Recipes

I am very excited to have a guest post by Talia from The Gibson Girl Blog on 18th century cosmetic and beauty recipes! Enjoy!

18th Century Cosmetic Recipes

The Petit Albert is a well known text in certain circles. Part magic, part household hints, this French texts calls itself a "Universal Treasury" and claims it can provide useful knowledge to all humanity.

Among its secrets, which include love spells, recipes for pigeon feed, tips for farmers, and methods for creating artificial gold, a few beauty recipes are to be found. Some editions come bearing a date from as early as 1668, but because several elements from its content were controversial, there is suspicion about the authenticity of its printing dates (it was apparently quite common to put false printer's info on such books in an effort to throw off the censors -- placing an earlier date on the edition might falsely lead the authorities to figure the text had already been circulating under approval.) 1702 is the first definite date that can be confirmed for the Albert's existence.

François Boucher,Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour. 1758, Oil on canvas. Fogg Museum.
The Petit Albert was an influential text, and other renowned 18th century beauty books like The Toilet of Flora carry exact translations of its recipes, without giving credit.

Here are a few notable tricks from Petit Albert:

Toothpaste: made from powdered myrrh and sage, mixed with honey.

Carriera, Rosalba (1675-1757), Woman at her Dressing Table. 1730, watercolor, gouache on ivory.
Wash-balls: 1 pound of Florentine orris root, 4 ounces of storax, 2 ounces of yellow sandalwood, half an ounce of cloves, as much of fine cinnamon, one nutmeg. Powder and mix all ingredients. Then take two pounds of "good white soap" (castile or lye) shaved and put into about 4 pints of water for 4 - 5 days. Take 12 grains of ambergris mixed with gum tragancath and whatever kind of floral water you like and mix this in. "And from this paste you form wash-balls which you place in the sun to dry, and store them in jars with some cotton."

Wash-balls are an old term for complexion soaps (as opposed to laundry soaps, which was the primary use of soap for a long time.) 

Remedy for pimples: Wrap saltpeter in a cloth and moisten it with clean water. Pat the pimples over with this cloth.

Hungary Water: 1.5 pounds rosemary flowers, 1/2 lb pennyroyal flowers, 1/2 lb marjoram flowers, 2 lbs lavender flowers, covered with 3 pints of aqua vita (a strong alcohol - vodka is acceptable.) Put it into digestion for 24 hours in a warm place, in a well sealed container. Then distill it.

Hungary Water is also called Queen of Hungary's Water, and is a "water" in the sense of a Toilet Water or Cologne, and was used originally as a medicine that could be rubbed on the body or imbibed to enhance health and beauty. 

Hair dye: "Gold foam" (a kind of litharge*) powdered and boiled in water. Soak hair in the hot water, the longer the darker the color will be.

Some of these recipes might not be recommended any longer (honey will rot your teeth, *litharge is poisonous) but it is a fascinating look at the home remedies folks of old time used for correcting their beauty troubles!

May 16, 2012

Pups of the Past: Louis XV

Attributed to Pierre Gobert, Portrait of Louis XV with Two Dogs. Early 18th century, oil on canvas. Private Collection.

Young Louis XV heads outside with two puppies! The larger pup has a French blue ribbon which the young king holds as the dog jumps up in a playful manner. The second pup can hardly contain his excitement to get out and play!

Versailles is seen clearly in the background, with its perfectly kept French style gardens. I can only imagine there was much more playing happening than 'standing steady' for this portrait.

Related posts:

Pups of the Past: Maire Antoinette's Dogs

Pups of the Past: Dogs at Versailles

May 08, 2012

Favorites: Marguerite Gérard self portrait

Marguerite Gérard, French, The Artist, Fragonard's Sister-in-law, Painting her Husband's Portrait. c. 1780's, Oil on canvas. Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University.

May 02, 2012

Vote for an 18th century Google doodle!

Thanks to @Edwardian_Era for pointing out this fun 18th century themed submission in the Google Doodle contest.  Google is having a contest with winners from each state in the final running.  The doodle selected from New York was drawn by twelfth-grader Barbara M.

Barbara's Google doodle is titled "Marie Antoinette's Versailles"
She writes:
"I would visit the Palace of Versailles during the early stages of the French Revolution to see if Marie Antoinette was truly as blind to the troubles outside the palace as she is portrayed. Her alleged posh lifestyle truly intrigues me."

To vote for this 18th century themed Google doodle, click here.

Be sure to check out all the doodles for excellent history-inspired art!