Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trivia Monday Answered

Last week's trivia question was:- Antoine Lavoisier, known as the "Father of modern chemistry", has been mentioned along with his wife in a few of the diary entries. What two elements is he famous for having "discovered", or at least named?

Banker Chick correctly responded "Hydrogen and Oxygen, though he was a chemist, he was executed during the French Revolution for being a tax collector."

Yes indeed, and for so much more. You see, Lavoisier was part of The Ferme, the powerful tax farmers of France, but his heart belonged to chemistry, and he even postulated the formula H2O for water. During the Revolution he successfully fought for freedom for foreign scientists trapped in France, but this, combined with the fact that he had once slighted the revolutionary firebrand Marat, meant that his fate was pretty much sealed. I mean, you just can't have someone who is powerful, wealthy, and intelligent getting his way and living to tell of it. He was executed by guillotine ostensibly for selling "watered down tobacco". Oh, the shame.

Though he was later exonerated after the Terror, I doubt it brought much comfort to his widow, who had tried vociferously to save her husband.

No additional trivia this week. I am going out of town on business and will only be able to post sporadically for the next few weeks. Catch you all on the flip side, and for those of you who come for the diary prepare for some interesting twists!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trivia Monday...on Tuesday

Oops! I'm a little late in posting the trivia question for this week, my apologies. Last week's question was promptly answered by Susanne N. The question was:-

"We all know that Marie Antoinett's morning routine was strictly regulated by court ettiquette, but she did get to choose her clothing for the day. A card with swatches of the fabric for each outfit were brought to her, and she would do what to indicate her choice?"

Susanne's response was "She used pins to mark which clothes she liked to wear." Indeed. The swatchbook above, though not one of Marie Antoinette's, gives an idea of what hers looked like, and I have heard that at least a few pages have survived which show the pin pricks from where she indicated her choices.

And now for this week's question:-

Antoine Lavoisier, known as the "Father of modern chemistry", has been mentioned along with his wife in a few of the diary entries. What two elements is he famous for having "discovered", or at least named?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Regency Picnic- Change of Plans

Disaster strikes! When originally posted on the website the regency picnic was scheduled for May 26th, but the updated event listing is in fact on May 19th. Since I work in theater I often have to work on the weekends, and it just so happens that I am scheduled to work May 18th & 19th, so I won't be able to attend after all.

And now I'm sad.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Court Presentation- Honors of the Court Part 5

The language in this section is really dense, hopefully I've managed to make it a little more understandable...


Law of 17th April 1760
                Concerning the presentation of ladies of the court and those aspiring to the honor of going in the carriages of the King.
“In the future, no lady may be presented to His Majesty and no gentleman can any longer be permitted to go in the carriages, and follow there to the hunt, unless they have previously produced, before the genealogist of his orders, three titles establishing each degree of the family of the husband, like contracts of marriage, wills, division, act of guardianship, gifts, etc., for each one the affiliation will be established clearly since the year 1400. Forbids His Majesty the said genealogist to admit any of the judgments of its board and its superior courts, nor the judgments made ​​by its various commissioners, during the various searches made of ​​nobility of the kingdom, and not to receive any consideration that can be that of the original titles of families; and wishing by the example of his predecessor Kings, not only to give families who are from a noble race, the honor to be presented and to go in the carriages, His Majesty has also directed his genealogist not to issue any certificate when he has knowledge that nobility which we want to show makes his principle (money) in the exercise of any office of dress, and other similar offices, or by letters of ennoblement, always excepting in the latter case, those for whom such letters are to be accorded by reason of services singly rendered to the state, reserving, moreover, to except that this rule would be filled by those who supported the crown or in his house, as also by the male descendants of the knights of his orders, which will be required only to prove their connection with those who have been decorated by said orders of the King.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14th, 1782

A note from the Marquis de Menars appeared rather unexpectedly this morning. He wishes to meet with me in private, and I can only assume it involves his interest in Mlle de Rodez. I have replied that he may attend my Lever tomorrow morning, and that I will speak with him after.

Olympe, Comtesse

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trivia Monday!

It seems that I may have stumped you all last week. The question was "What style of dress was inspired by Beaumarchais' Marriage of Figaro?"

The answer:- Deshabille a la Suzanne! Named for the character of Figaro's sweetheart (and eventual wife) in the play, it consisted of a fitted jacket (similar to a perault), skirt, white apron, and fichu. I would also have given credit for the Costume au Grand Figaro, which is mentioned in a Galerie des Modes fashion plate.

The play was first officially performed in April of 1784, and had been heavily censored due mostly to the challenge it presented to the social order. Nevertheless it quickly became exceptionally popular inspiring, not only the two styles mentioned above, but also the Chapeau a la Basile, trimmings a la Figaro, and a Chapeau a la Cherubin. It's success led Mozart to compose his operatic version in 1786.

And now for this week's trivia question:-

We all know that Marie Antoinett's morning routine was strictly regulated by court ettiquette, but she did get to choose her clothing for the day. A card with swatches of the fabric for each outfit were brought to her, and she would do what to indicate her choice?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trading Titles; Auvergne, Artois, and Poitou

I found an interesting little tidbit while doing research on morganatic marriage last night. The County of Auvergne is a real title, and as such belonged to real people, though it had died out by the time of Olympe's birth in 1750. It was resurrected, however, in 1773 for the Comte d'Artois, the brother of Louis XVI. He only held it until 1778, when he exchanged it for the County of Poitou.

Apparently he liked that one better; it probably had larger tax benefits.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 5th, 1782

Still no word from that irritating little clerk of the police. I have sent word to him by M. Poisson that I wish to have a report of his progress very soon.

I was invited to tea with the Dowager Comtesse R- and Mlle Clementine today, but when I arrived I found that Clementine would "not be joining us," and that was all the explanation I received. The old bat then proceeded to tell me that a gentleman, and a friend of the family, had expressed great interest in Clementine, and that she was considering whether it would not be best that her daughter be presented after her marriage. I inquired after the identity of the gentleman and nearly choked on my tea when I was told that it was the Marquis de Menars!

While my mind was trying to form a reasonable objection, my feelings must have registered on my face, because the Comtesse took a very brutal approach in informing me that though HE was a very close friend of the famly, HE had not insinuated his way into their affairs during a very sensitive time, for which they were very appreciative. It was all I could do to hold my tongue and not reply that he did not seem like such a fond family friend when her late son, and my friend, had nearly slit his throat in their duel.

I composed my thoughts, and replied instead that if she felt that presenting her daughter after her marriage to a Marquis was preferable then of course she should follow her own inclination, but that the Duc, my cousin should be informed as soon as her decision was made as he had informed many of his friends that they should profit by making her acquaintance. At that I could see the bat's countenance freeze and grow pensive.

I made to take my leave, and then pretending an afterthought I said "Are the Marquis' prospects assured?" She informed me that they were, at which I feigned some mild surprised and said "I had thought I had heard a rumor, but apparently it is to be disregarded, like so many rumors. I personally have never given any credence to the one that he declared he would lock his wife away as soon as he married, that he may more freely spend her dowry, and nor should you."

That will leave her spinning for a few days at least. First she will have to re-check his financial arrangements, then if she is a mother with any heart (of which I am not assured), she will ponder his suitability for Clementine, perhaps she will even make a few new stipulations to any contract being drawn up. With all of that on her mind she may take heed of the fact that being presented by a Duc, whose connections will certainly throw her into the path of others of his rank, might lead to a more advantageous match.

Finally, should she decide to go to the Marquis de Menars with these rumors, even if she were to tell him the source, he could hardly tell her the truth. That he pursued me, and that I refused him? That will make him sound desperate and me lucky to have escaped; and he will certainly not tell her that it all led to a duel with her son, who cared enough for me to defend my honor against him, and who gave him the scar he now hides behind his cravat. I wonder what Menars' reason is for wanting to marry Clementine. Vengeance? Would he mistreat her since he cannot hurt her brother now?

I must get a note to Clementine and warn her that he is not the charming man that he can seem to be.

Olympe, Comtesse

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Trivia Monday!

Congratulations to Banker Chick who correctly answered last week's trivia question! 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?

The answer: Mon Plaisir! I have been fascinated by this tiny recreation of life both in and outside of the Prince's court, ever since I was very young. The Prince and Princess are themselves depicted in several rooms, as are some of their favorite courtiers, but everyone from nuns to maids to chimney sweeps are rendered in loving detail. For a plethora of beautiful images of the collection I strongly recommend checking out this video:-
You can also find out more about it in the book The Miniature House.

And now for this week's trivia question:-
What style of dress was inspired by Beaumarchais' Marriage of Figaro? Extra points if you can tell me what features distinguish it from other styles.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress

Well I am excited, dear readers! For the first time I have an event to go to in costume. The Regency Society of Virginia has a picnic coming up at the end of May and I intend to attend. Of course, now I need to really get cracking on a proper Regency wardrobe. I was thinking of this:-
Instead of the parasol I may do simply a shawl, and in place of the strange runway-styling headdress a shading and lovely bonnet. Who doesn't love a bonnet? I'm a big fan of ice blue and tend to look well in it, so I'll likely leave the color scheme as it is.

Updates to come; oh, and I'm currently working on my portrait bracelets and a brise fan so I should have a post or two about that in the near future too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Film Review- Persuasion (1995)

I first read Persuasion, by Jane Austen about twelve years ago, and though I knew about this film version back then, it took me until just recently to see it. In the meantime Ciaran Hinds, who plays the romantic male lead, Capt. Frederick Wentworth, has become a much more familiar face, but even in this earlier work his acting chops are obvious. The problem with men in Jane Austen's novels is that they tend to be sort of stock characters; good, bad, brooding, fortune-seekers, snobs, indulgent fathers, but a few men get to be really conflicted. I sometimes think Persuasion would have been more interesting as told from Capt. Wentworth's point of view, as he tries to throw himself into his life on the high seas and forget about the daughter of a wealthy landowner who refuses his proposal. He returns to England after the defeat of Napoleon only to run into her again, and realizes he's not over her at all. It's an Austen novel, so of course it has a happy ending.

The actual story, however, is told from the woman, Anne Elliott's, point of view. Anne wanted to marry him, she loved him, but a nosy though well-meaning family friend persuaded (and keeps persuading) her not to. Quiet, obliging, a little on the older side, Anne does what's best for everyone else, which almost gets her married to the wrong man. Amanda Root does a great job with an essentially very straight-forward character. She's not a gorgeous Hollywood actress, and she does look a little bit older than our usual Emma, Jane, or Marianne "Austen heroines". I liked it. In fact, Persuasion may be my favorite Austen novel of all, because it suggests that it's never too late to find happiness, and that mousy people can learn to stand up for themselves and make the life that they want. Root shows all the patient suffering of a woman faced with the man she lost, watching him seem to move on. She looks simultaneously peeved and resigned that no one seems to think of her unless it's to get rid of her, and watching her play peace-maker between fractious relatives is humorous and sympathetic.

The lovely settings of the seaside, Bath, and the country all make for diverting and pleasant backdrops. The costumes are perfect, in that they aren't too luxurious, some of the diversity within uniforms is shown, and characters are more fully-rendered through what they wear. Our heroine is never too pretty, she shouldn't be, and yet she never looks shabby or ugly either, with a careful restraint in color that is bumped up towards the end.

A pleasant movie and an easy-to-read book, I recommend both to young and old alike.