Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trivia Monday!

Augustintyt√§r  was the first to correctly guess the answer to last week's trivia question "This novel, published in 1782, was immensely popular in it's day and caused quite a stir for the licentious behavior depicted. It remains popular to this day, and has been made into plays, movies, and even an opera."

The answer, as many of you know, was Dangerous Liasons.

Banker Chick pointed out that there tends to be a French theme to the questions, which is pretty true but this week features a blend of French and German:-

There was a vast miniature palace and town commissioned by Princess Dorothea of Schwarzburg-Arnstadt in the 18th century. What was the name of that grand project?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 23rd, 1782

Such a quiet day I have had, but not without purpose. Since I last wrote I employed M. Poisson to direct me to a clerk of the Police Bureau, and duly he arranged a meeting for me last week in the Tuileries gardens. Presently a man, by the name of Champlaine, arrived looking very ill at ease. A little coin assuaged his anxiety, and he promised that he would try to bring me the letter which accused Thierry of being a spy.

Today, after my Lever, I wrote some letters, received some merchants for payment, had a fitting for new clothes, read for an hour or so, walked with Reinette at the gardens again, and embroidered a little. Just after 5 o'clock I was informed that a man had arrived and wished to speak with me, and it being Champlaine I had him admitted. He brought with him, not the letter itself, but a copy of the letter. Interesting as that was, it said nothing which would help me to divine the author, and so I again insisted that I must have the original, and again I plied him with money.

Tonight I am expected at the Comedie Francaise, and then there is a late supper to follow. I am in the mood to celebrate for I feel that very soon I will have answers.

Olympe, Comtesse

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Court Presentation- Honors of the Court Part 4

"However, soon these formalities became powerless against favor, intrigue, and ambition. The more one sought to restrict the number of admissions, and the more the difficulty given them of price, they did ardently seek it. The petitions for presentation followed an ever-increasing progression; they became so general and sometimes so surprising, that it was necessary to turn to a new remedy. Louis XV approved, the 31st of December 1759, a settlement which would be implemented the following April. The original is conserved in the National Archives."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Trivia Monday!

Despite good guesses from some of you, no one was able to correctly answer our trivia question from last week. Ready for the answer? "What historical figure had several pets, including a monkey, birds, and small dogs (two of whom were named Mimi and Ines)?"
 It was Mme de Pompadour! Louis XV's favorite mistress was painted several times with her precious pets, perhaps as a symbol of her fidelity to her lover and King, or simply out of fondness for the creatures. Too bad we don't know which little Papillion is being depicted in the painting, as he climbs up to peek curiously at her needlework and beg for attention. My own canine companion, Reinette, was named after the Maitress-en-titre herself.

So onto this week's trivia question:- This novel, published in 1782, was immensely popular in it's day and caused quite a stir for the licentious behavior depicted. It remains popular to this day, and has been made into plays, movies, and even an opera.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Style That Ruled the Empires- Exhibition Review

Yesterday my husband and I had our delayed Valentine's Day, and went to Hillwood Estate in D.C. where he first proposed, to take in an exhibition called "The Style That Ruled the Empires: Russia, Napoleon, & 1812". If you know your history you will already be aware that 1812 was the year that Napoleon was defeated in Russia and driven out, but nonetheless the decorative style known as "Empire" was pervasive across Europe, even in Russia. This is the war (known as the Patriotic War in Russia) in which Tolstoy's War & Peace is set.

Diamond and Ruby necklace and earrings
The exhibition could not have been more perfectly set than in the Dacha which was built on the sprawling premises of the turn-of-the-century estate; and, though it was a relatively small group of objects, was diverse and lovely. There was armor, snuffboxes, maps, glassware celebrating the Russian generals, furniture, medals, but best of all for me- two empire gowns with accessories and jewelry.

There were mirrored doors set up behind the two mannequins, making it possible to see the back of the gowns, but the shoes were hidden under the folds of the frocks so that they were not visible beyond white pointed toes. The gowns were both beautiful, and different from each other, with a quantity of bouillon decoration on one, and a filmy gathered bodice on the other. The best part was that because of the intimate grouping of the objects within the small one-room building it was possible to get very close indeed to the gowns and see where seams were placed, what decoration was woven as part of the fabric and what was sewn to it, and even how the necklaces clasped (I think I made the security guard nervous by peering around the side of the display case for the above set).

As if the gowns themselves weren't enough, the hair ornaments, gloves, shawl, fans, and lace were certainly of some interest. It's always nice to see extant garments close-up and in-person, since photographs just don't capture all of the details in a three-dimensional way.

In addition to the exhibition, my husband and I also took a stroll in the gardens (which is where he originally proposed), looked in at the greenhouse to see the orchids, and had luncheon complete with two kinds of tea, and a Russian theme at a leisurely pace in the cafe. This time we skipped the main house, because we have been there many times, but for those new to Hillwood it is not to be missed. For more information, photos, and reservations you can visit their website at http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org.

Friday, February 17, 2012

And I Quote- Lord Byron

“And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but The truth in masquerade.”  -Lord Byron

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16th, 1782

There is much news to report. Yesterday Elizabeth was finally delivered of her child. My poor friend has had yet another boy, Louis, though she did so wish for a daughter. I understand that she is recovering sufficiently well, and I will visit her when appropriate.

My estate manager is here at Sully, having deemed it better to travel all the way to Paris to conduct the possible sale of Lespinasse Castle with Lafayette. He warns me that some minor repairs ought to be made in advance of the Marquis visiting the property, and I find his idea of a minor repair to be quite expensive. All the same, one must spend money in order that one may make money at times, so I have hired workmen in Auvergne and my agent will return later this week to oversee things.

I held a small dinner gathering last night, and though I had by now given up hope of seeing either the Marquis de F- or Mlle de Rodez, to my astonishment, both accepted my invitation. Naturally Clementine was much-guarded by the Dowager Countess, but it seemed to me that she delighted in everything and was sorry to leave. I could not see that she took any special interest in F- but there is time yet to foster that plan.

As for the man himself, one important thing did occur. He attend with a lady, a Mlle Verloux, but he found a moment when I had stepped away from the other guests to speak with me. He pressed me for information about Thierry's whereabouts and plans, exuding friendly solicitude, though he has ever been a poor liar. I responded evasively, telling him that Thierry is moving about. Let him frustrate himself with that! I then asked him outright if he had anything to do with the Lettre de Cache and the information that was given to the police. He denied it, but I know in my heart that he did, and I will find a way to prove it.

Today I go once more to the police, and this time I will not deal with Lenoir, the Chief of Police, I will use more subtle means. It is a well-known fact that the clerks are underpaid, so I think that a good bribe may do the trick.
Olympe, Comtesse

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trivia Monday!

I've decided it would be fun to start to a new blog feature. Every Monday I will post a trivia question related to the 18th century, and the first person to leave a comment with the correct answer will have their name and response posted the following week.

I have a pretty easy one for you this week:-
What historical figure had several pets, including a monkey, birds, and small dogs (two of whom were named Mimi and Ines)?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Regency Society of Virginia

Exciting news for anybody living in or near Virginia! There is a brand new re-enactment group called the Regency Society of Virginia. This is of particular interest to people like me who live near Washington, D.C. and have despaired of finding a casual (but knowledgeable) group of people on the East Coast who aren't doing Revolutionary or Civil War events. I quote from their website:-

"Do you adore Jane Austen and her works (or the movies based upon them)?  Are you a War of 1812 or Napoleonic Wars re-enactor?  Perhaps you love the fashions of the Regency era or wish you had a place to wear such finery?  Enjoy the elegance of an English Country Dance?...We are a group of early 19th century enthusiasts who seek to unite all those who wish to recapture the refinement and civil society of this by-gone age.  Join us in this, our inaugural year, as we host workshops, costumed events, lectures and more with a distinctly Regency flavor."

 Sounds like fun to me! Excuse me while I go plan some Regency costumes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Theatre Costuming vs Re-enactment Costuming: Part 2

For anyone interested in the second part of my series on costuming it is now up on my other blog, Amphorae. Have a question or a comment? Feel free to leave one on either site.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Court Presentation- Honors of the Court Part 3

In the last installment of Honors of the Court I started the translation of a document which helps to detail the process of being presented. Previously we learned about the history of why being presented was important, and also why it was made difficult to attain. Today we begin to find out the requirements for applying to the honor.

"The presentation, left until then to the arbiter and to a caprice of the prince, was, from the majority [adulthood] of Louis XV, submissive to a very regular form. To be admitted to the honors of the court, that is to say to the circles, the balls of the king and the queen, to ride in the carriage of his Majesty and accompany him on the hunt; it was necessary to occupy a high rung among the nobility and “make a pretense of proofs of one’s” ancient lineage. The court also held, since the year 1730, a registry of people who enjoyed these honors."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Theatre Costuming vs Reenactment Costuming: Part 1

If you are interested in the differences between costuming for theater and costuming for reenactment events you might enjoy my latest post on my other blog, Amphorae. If you have questions about costuming for theater, or would like to know more, leave a comment!