French Prints: Fashion Plates & Louis-Leopold Boilly & Little Napoleon

French Prints at the Sugar Shack

And the craziest china cabinet we could find... full of glowy uranium depression glass and antique absinthe collectables!

I’ve been collecting these french prints for a few years now, this is the first time any of them has made it up on the wall!  We’ve grouped them together above a crazy art deco cabinet we got to house all the depression glass and absinthe collectibles.

The piece de resistance, a pair of large framed prints, were recently acquired at the Alameda Antiques Faire, I nearly fell over myself to get these, and the price was amazing. Shall I tell you? $75 for the pair.  The artist, Louis-Leopold Boilly, is an obsession of mine, seeing as his career straddled the Ancien Régime all the way through the Post-Napoleonic period. This pair of prints Defends Moi & La Lecon D’union Conjugal also reference the famous Before & After by Hogarth: depicting the struggle of seduction, and the exhaustion of surrender.  These are from the Directoire Period, circa 1797!

Thanks to Google Books for this quote:

“During the Directoire, Boilly produced a number of compositions, of which a good many were executed by an engraver of no very great talent, named Petit. Prints such as ” Defends-moi,” ” Tu saurais ma pensee,” ” Ah ! qu’il est sot ! ” and others in the same style are fairly common, and not particularly worthy of attention. On the other hand, certain coloured and uncoloured prints after Boilly have within recent years attained a considerable rise in value. ” — French Prints of the 18th Century

The rest are Directoire Period Fashion Plates & Kissing Games, Famous and Infamous Madames du Lettres: Mme de Staël, Mme Roland & Mlle Lemornand, a tiny print of the Palais du Justice & Conciergerie (last holding place of Marie Antoinette and so many others who went to the guillotine), and a tiny victorian miniature of Little Napoleon himself. Oh, and don’t forget the tiny dime store vase featuring Madame Recamier, the famous beauty of the Directoire and Empire!

On Collecting: I’m fascinated by Georgian & Victorian collectors, my stepmom just sent me this Guardian UK article (by AS Byatt no less) to a new book out on the subject: Magpies, Squirrels and Thieves

Démodé: 1790′s real women’s clothing directory

 

french-jacket-1790.jpg 

Jacket; c. 1790; French

Red and white striped silk brocade with

silver-colored buttons; fold-back collar.

Source: Kyoto Fashion Institute

Fantastic historic dress resource! Particularly useful for isolating by decade the time period you are researching.
Démodé: 1790’s real women’s clothing directory
Every example is precious. This is a beautiful example of sartorial enthusiasm for the revolution. Or, it could just be a gorgeous red & white striped parisien jacket.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

 

Noire Gloire: 18th Century Mourning Customs in a time of Revolution

augustin_deuil.png
Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin 1792 [source]

Up until the 18th century mourning was a luxury enjoyed (sic) mainly by royalty and those with sufficient aristocratic pedigrees. When Sir Henry Unton, a mere Ambassador, MP and civil servant extraordinaire, died of bubonic plague while in the queen’s service in 1596 he was accorded a baron’s funeral for services rendered, a full two stations higher than his own of Knight.
Certain mourning customs that were familiar to the Victorians, the worlds best mourners, would have seemed equally at home four-hundred years earlier. While the 16th century was awash in black, the upper class women (and by that we mean aristocratic) draped themselves in various veils and bauble-free headgear, usually in black, sometimes in white if you were Marie Stuart (please clip those “r”s like a proper scot). Men donned a hooded cloak, seen quite clearly in Sir Henry’s funeral procession. These are not monks, but friends and family, who would be expected to wear the garment up to six months depending on their relation to the deceased. Male mourning would later lose the mourning cloak and cowl, and substitute darker, more somber versions of au current fashion.
Prior to Et in Arcadia ego (Nicolas Poussin, 1637-1638) death iconography was quite literal, and consisted mostly of deaths heads and crossbones, reapers, and uniquely animated cadavers out to pay a call.
During the enlightenment era a fundamental change occured. While mourning goods became more affordable by the middle classes, mourning customs began to be sentimentalized as the enlightenment philosphies began to change the very basis of family life and family feeling. Rousseauian ideals and neoclassical motifs collided so that by the second half of the 18th century every grieving mother envisioned herself a stoic Roman matron mourning her Brutus while posing attractively on the lawn with an obelisk. Early on it was primarily in mourning iconography that women played out these neo-classical fashion fantasies, long before they appeared draped over the heaving bosoms of the demi-monde at the Palais Royale.
Mourning Jewelry and Portraiture
It was common custom for a person to stipulate in their will to have memorial jewelry made for loved ones (rings, brooches, lockets) either using macerated hair to paint with, or locks of hair woven to create a pleasing pattern or design, with a sentimental phrase, pertinent names, dates etc. The to-be-deceased would have set aside some locks of hair for this purpose. So it is with little surprise that (especially) during the Terror, when people were certain of their own demise, we find the condemned preparing for death, and their own remembrances there-after. Locks of hair and other tokens are exchanged frequently, bequeathed, and smuggled out of prisons by sympathetic, and sometimes merely pecuniary, opportunists. This was especially the case for the royal family. Despite thorough efforts by the revolutionary government to deter the traffic in royal relics, there were reports of locks Louis XVI hair being sold in little boxes, and “large silver rings, which have secret openings, containing in their upper part, made convex for this purpose a small piece of the coat of Monsieur Veto…” [source: The Politics of Appearance – Wrigley]
Royalist Sympathies

landon_Le Comte Pierre-Jean de Bourcet et sa famille_1791.jpg
Le Comte Pierre-Jean de Bourcet et sa famille
Charles Paul Landon 1791
Inscription: Landon–officier de la maison
de feu Mgr le Dauphin–1791

The year is 1791 and Bourcet, as an official in the house of the Dauphin, is displaying his royalist sympathies with a lack of subtlety that does him credit. Upon the table to the left are marble busts of the king and queen, one white lily (of france) lies dying upon the table, while a second remains in a french blue vase. I speculate that the lilies are the two dauphins of france, the elder of the two perished just before the fall of the bastille in July of 1789. The Bourcet family seems to be mourning their own loss. M. de Bourcet’s downward gaze falls upon the fallen lily, hand empty and outstretched, while the other holds his eldest affectionately to his side. The four children stand between their parents. The eldest, father’s little soldier, gazes forlornly at the portrait on the floor, a toddler on Maman’s lap reaches towards the portrait upon the wall, too young to understand where his deceased brother has gone, while the young girl watches pensively by her youngest sibling’s cradle, the infant turns away, perhaps ready to join the elder sibling who went before, and take her place in the empty frame above. Madame and Mlle. are the only two who gaze at the viewer. Who is the painting beneath the table?
The Victim’s Ball
To read more on the most unusual mourning practice of the age, view my post and gallery on Les Bal des Victimes!

Will posterity believe that persons whose relatives died on the scaffold did not institute
days of solemn and common affliction during which, assembled in mourning clothing,
they would attest to their grief over such cruel, such recent losses, but instead [instituted]
days of dancing where the point was to waltz, drink and eat to one’s heart’s content.
–Mercier

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Continue reading Noire Gloire: 18th Century Mourning Customs in a time of Revolution

Life of Sir Henry Unton 1557-1596

sir_henry_unton_1596.jpg
(500k) Life of Sir Henry Unton 1557-1596
Anonymous —National Portrait Gallery, London

Up until the 18th century mourning was a luxury enjoyed (sic) mainly by royalty and those with sufficient aristocratic pedigrees. When Sir Henry Unton, a mere Ambassador, MP and civil servant extraordinaire, died of bubonic plague while in the queen’s service in 1596 he was accorded a baron’s funeral for services rendered, a full two stations higher than his own of Knight. His widow assures that this momentous honor will not be forgotten by her neighbors, had a brilliant and surreal panel painted depicting his birth, life, achievments, but mainly his oh-so-glorious death which takes up a good three-quarters of the panel. His death, including maladie, doctoring, dying, sailing back to England in a black sailed mourning ship, the above mentioned mile long funeral procession and packed church, ends with his tomb, upon which he rests rather cheerfully, looking as if he were resting in a field of daisies, the Widow Unton looming over him like a spider. All of this layed out rather counter-intuitively from right (birth) to left (entombment).

sir_henry_unton_1596_boat.jpg
Detail: Sir Henry Unton
Black sailed mourning ship
funeral mourners

While my main focus here is French mourning, I mention Sir Henry because the painting is so very cool. Well, that and the further you go back in time, the more difficult it is to dig up the evidence on google. French and English customs have long been in a neck and neck horse race. One is never far behind the other, and so too goes the mourning customs. That there is my excuse for rambling on about the very awesome Life and Death of Sir Henry Unton (which I didn’t actually find on google, but saw rather in person during a recent visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London).
So here I depart from England.

Guardian.co.uk: Top 10 books about Elizabeth I

Michael Dobson and Nicola J Watson are the authors of England’s Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy (Oxford, 2002). It is a guide to the nation’s 400-year obsession with the Virgin Queen.
“This is a deliberately miscellaneous selection, since one of the most extraordinary things about Elizabeth is the sheer range of material she has inspired, and continues to inspire, from Spenser’s Faerie Queene to Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth and beyond.”

Read the full list: The Guardian.co.uk – Michael Dobson and Nicola J Watson’s top 10 books about Elizabeth I
Or take a spin on my li’l carousel!

The Victim’s Ball

victime01.jpg
Croisures à la victime, 1798
from “Fashion in the French Revolution” by Aileen Ribiero

Or, les Bal des Victimes
The celebratory atmosphere following the “Reign of Terror” gave way to a number of frivolous yet gruesome fashions and pastimes, one of which was the Victim’s Ball. In order to qualify for admittance in one of these sought after soirees one had to to be a close relative or spouse of one who had lost their life to the guillotine. Invitations were so coveted that papers proving your right to attend had to be shown at the door, and some were even known to forge this certificate in their eagerness. All the rage at these grand balls was to have the hair cut high up off the neck, in imitation of “le toilette du condamne” where the victim’s hair is cut so as not to impede the efficiency of the blade. There were several popular hairstyles including cheveux à la titus or à la victime for both women and men, where the hair is given very short and choppy cut, and the “dog ears” worn by Muscadins, where long flops of hair are left on either side of the face, but cut right up to the hairline on the back of the neck. And for the ladies, a thin red velvet ribbon worn round the neck, or red ribbons worn croisures à la victime, a kind of reverse fichu, or ceinture croisée, across the back of the bodice forming a symbolic “x marks the spot” across the upper back.

Will posterity believe that persons whose relatives died on the scaffold did not institute
days of solemn and common affliction during which, assembled in mourning clothing,
they would attest to their grief over such cruel, such recent losses, but instead [instituted]
days of dancing where the point was to waltz, drink and eat to one’s heart’s content.
—Mercier

Like most fads, these reactionary styles and those of the Incroyable et Merveilleuse crowd that ruled Paris the days after 9 Thermidor, this one was over before it began. By the end of the decade once mutually exclusive sartorial insignia such as knee breeches (monarchist) and the tricoloure were sported together with verve, irrespective of their once pertinent symbolism. It’s just fashion! The short and sassy hair cut à la titus never caught on outside of France for women, but lasted in France into the next century. Men’s hair never recovered. From the unpowdered long locks of the revolutionary sympathizer, to the dashingly short titus, men have endeavored to look unfussed ever since, even if it took a whole lot of fussing to achieve.
Sources:

Continue reading The Victim’s Ball

Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles

Marie-Antoinette and the Petit Trianon at Versailles
Legion of Honor, San Francisco
November 17, 2007 — February 17, 2008

marie-antoinette_legion_of_honor.jpg

Now, if my google alert box weren’t quite so overwhelming, I might have caught this press release when it went out. But due to the sharp eyes of a good friend, Nadja (♥), I have the link!
Aieeeee!
The blurb:

Marie-Antoinette, the Austrian-born queen of Louis XVI of France, was given the Petit Trianon, a small château secluded in the park at Versailles, upon her accession in
1774. An icon of French neoclassicism, it exemplifies the perfection of 18th-century French architecture through its delicate balance of form and proportion. Its interiors were furnished to the queen’s order with pieces of the utmost elegance, restraint, and beauty. This exhibition gives a visual history of the Petit Trianon through 88 pieces of the finest furniture, paintings, and sculpture from this château. It is complemented by watercolors, prints, and drawings of the house and its innovative landscaping, including the picturesque Hameau, a rustic village where the queen and her favorites could relax away from the prying eyes of the court at Versailles. This is the only venue of the exhibition, which is organized by the Musée National of the Château de Versailles.

One of my favorite things about trumpeting your hobbies loud and proud (on the internet and otherwise) is that friends and strangers alike are sure to let you know of something dead or decapitated… in case you missed it. Yay!
I’d be running down there this instant if I didn’t have so much going on this week with Dolpa & Work & Thanksgiving & OH GAWD! Heh.
In any case, it is showing at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor from today til 2/17/2008, with lots of very cool special events planned.
We’ll report back. For reals. I still have 2837434 pictures from my Severed Head, er, Absinthe tour of Europe last summer! And more on the revolutionary fashion stuff. I’m a busy girl. But it is all coming along.
Mwah!
Kallisti