Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 25, 1780

The deed is done, there is no turning back now. The King has been answered and our engagement announced. Well-wishers visit day and night and I am asked constantly about when the celebrations will commence. Every day F- comes to my Lever and we are seen out walking and at the theatre, and always trailing behind comes Thierry.

He wrote to F-, as he said he would, and his answer was an unexpected silence. "We will remember him together." That seems to be all F- will say. He is cheerful enough with others, but at night after the dinner and the cards and the guests have departed, he stares at the candles in mournful quiet. Something has darkened in him, something has darkened in all of us.

Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Portrait bracelets-Part 1

Portrait bracelets were, like the ruff collar or the simple strand of beads, a common accessory in the 18th century world. They served as a lovely place to display the image of a loved one, a lock of hair from the deceased, or the symbol of one's status. In the portrait above Mme de Pompadour prominently displays a large cameo of Louis XV, her lover, King, and keeper.

Attached to strands of pearls most commonly, or sometimes wide ribbon, these bracelets show up in many paintings of the period, and were exclusively worn by women. To the left Boucher paints Mme Bergeret. Note her wide, flat hat known as a "Bergere" Coincidence? Play on her name?

Another example of the prominent display of a portrait miniature within a portrait is this Lady in Blue by Gainsborough (late 1770s). The actual image is a little blurry, but there's no mistaking what it is.  
In this portrait of Maria Carolina, sister of Marie Antoinette, it looks as if we may have double portrait bracelets, if only we could see the front of the one on her right hand. If indeed they are both portrait bracelets, then the unbroken strands of pearls must mean that the clasp is somewhere close to the portrait itself.

Painted in 1755, this portrait of Mary Barnardiston shows a small portrait bracelet on her left wrist, upon which she leans wistfully. Who is she pining after? Unlike the last three, this one is attached to a ribbon or wide band of some kind, as opposed to pearls.

These are by no means the only paintings featuring portrait bracelets, there are many, many more. Most commonly they seem to be found on multiple pearl strands, from as few as two to as many as six, with three being common. They are worn in pairs or singularly, on either the left or the right wrist. So why is this part 1? In part two we'll look at how to make one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And I Quote..Francois la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"The young are generally full of revolt, and are often pretty revolting about it.”- Francois la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vendor Review- Smoke and Fire

Smoke and Fire is a re-enactor supply merchant that sells everything from fans to glassware, full costumes, patterns, hats, jewelry, musical instruments, games, books, and just about anything else you can imagine needing for reenactment life. Except wigs, which are always hard to find in good quality at an affordable price. Items at Smoke and Fire are very fairly-priced with shoe buckles starting around $25 per pair, fichus for $15, and full polonaise gowns for $165. They are my preferred vendor for silk stockings which come clocked in either cream or gray for just $20. Shipping is fast, and I've found them reliable and communicative whether for personal or theatrical use.

You can either shop the online store or request a paper catalogue. Check them out!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 2, 1780

I last reported that dear Thierry was returning to Paris and I expected him that very night, and so accordingly I sat up late into the night waiting. Fearing that at so late an hour he would be stopped at the gate, as there have been some changes to the household staff, I had Marianne take word that he was to be admitted no matter the time. I read some pamphlets, played with Reinette, attempted to embroider some (though my eyes are not as strong as they were, I fear), and paced before the windows. At midnight I allowed myself to be undressed, but tarried still more before retiring at one in the morning.

I slept fitfully and was awakened early by Marianne who said that people were already arriving for my first Lever. One look in the mirror told me that my sleepless night was much in evidence, but there was no delaying so as soon as I was properly laced into my stays I admitted my first visitors; the Comte and Comtesse de Rochechouart, the latter of whom was very happy to see Reinette whom she had given me just last winter. Soon the room began to fill with people, all happy to see me, all eager for the story of my "illness" and convalesence in Auvergne, all curious about rumors of an impending marriage. I avoided answering with all of the coquettry I could manage, and as it approached noon my morning chocolate wore away and I found myself desiring more substantial food.

Invited by Comtesse R- to a party of cards that evening I knew that I had little enough time to attend to other matters. In the midst of letters to Maman, my steward, and F- a visitor was announced. I looked up to find Thierry, dashing in a blue velvet coat and new wig. He approached and kissed my hand, my servant withdrew, and I blushed like a rose to see my handsome galante. "I have something for you." He said, and drew out from his pocket a box inside of which was a beautiful brooch made of four heart-shaped pearls set into gold with their points touching so that they looked like a clover. I made some exclamation of delight, and he smiled to see me so.

We talked for hours about his work in Lyon and all of the news from Saint-Saturnin, Pauline's little son; Guy, who is called "Hercule" for he is very strong and will grip one's finger most tenaciously. He then asked after the Marquis de F- and our wedding plans. At that a cloud came over our conversation and I related that the plan was to go forward and that I had requested an audience with the King to tell him of my decision. Thierry rose from his seat, paced a moment, and enjoined me to delay a little. I told him that I could not. We could not stage another incident like the one before to avoid meeting with the King, nor could I retract my request. I must attend and I must answer, but this is not what Thierry wishes to hear.

At last he said that he would speak with F-, and I said that I had to prepare for the Comtesse' party that evening, and so we parted with a kiss, much more troubled than we had met. Though he has come to Sully several times since we have not spoken more on the subject and I wonder what he and F- will say to one another.

Olympe, Comtesse