Thursday, May 10, 2018

Madame Elisabeth de France (May 3, 1764--May 10, 1794)



Constant in her piety
She lived like her father
Sublime in her firmness
She died like her brother 

--an 18th century poem written about Madame Elisabeth de France (May 3, 1764--May 10, 1794)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Colour and Composition by Angelica Kauffmann



Colour by Angelica Kauffmann, circa 1780.


Composition by Angelica Kauffmann, circa 1780.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

5 Fiction Novels Inspired by Real 18th-Century Women

Real-life historical women have inspired countless novels. The following 5 novels were inspired by the real lives and 5 different women who lived and loved in the 18th-century.

The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund


The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman is a novel-within-a-novel about Elisabeth-Vigee Lebrun, told through the story Kathryn Callaghan, a novel writer who has just finished her novel about famed 18th-century painter.

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland



The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. tells the story of the youth and early adulthood of Josephine Bonaparte, including her fist marriage, her struggles in the French Revolution and ultimately her early relationship with Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel by Sally Christie


The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel tells the story of the three Nesle sisters--Pauline, Diane and Marie-Anne-- who would, through betrayals, sacrifices and triumphs, become the mistresses of Louis XV.

Confessions of a Courtesan by Deborah Hale


Confessions of a Courtesan a fictionalized memoir from the point-of-view of Elizabeth Armistead, the English courtesan who became a mistress and eventually wife of English politician Charles Fox.

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott



I, Eliza Hamilton is a fictional memoir of Elizabeth--better known in popular culture as Eliza--Hamilton, the wife of famed American founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

Monday, March 26, 2018

3 Books From the Library of Marie Antoinette That Were Written by Women Authors

3 Books From the Library of Marie Antoinette That Were Written by Women Authors


Marie Antoinette, like many of her contemporaries, had an extensive book collection. The books she kept in her private library at the boudoir of the Petit Trianon chateau closely reflect her personal tastes; the collection is a combination of non-fiction histories, religious texts as well as many popular novels and stories of the day. Quite a number of the works held in her Petit Trianon library were written by women authors; I've compiled 3 of these books which are available online with English translations. Enjoy! 

The Sylphe by Georgiana Cavendish

Georgiana Cavendish, better known as the duchess of Devonshire, originally published her novel anonymous under the title "The Young Lady." The story, told through letters, follows the marriage and life of Julia Grenville, a young aristocrat who finds herself disillusioned with her marriage to an older man. The novel has many parallels to Georgiana's own life. 

Read it:  The 1779 English edition can be read at Project Gutenburg

Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World by Frances Burney


Like most of her contemporaries, Frances Burney originally published Evelina anonymously because of the social stigma surrounding women novelists. The novel is a witty novel of manners which follows the young adulthood of Evelina, the unacknowledged daughter of an English aristocrat, raised in seclusion because of her father's orders; after her 17th birthday, she decides to travel to London but finds herself ridiculed because of her lack of social graces and etiquette. Evelina meets both new and familiar faces as she tries to navigate London society.

Read it: The original English edition can be read on Project Gutenburg.  

Caroline, or the Diversities of Fortune by Anne Hughes


Caroline, or the Diversities of Fortune, follows the unfortunate life of Caroline, a young lady who finds herself alone in the world after the death of her father; she travels from place ot place, finding refuge with relatives and others, in an attempt to find a place in the world. It was received by the 1787 Monthly Review as a "pleasing and well-rought story" with sound morals for young-women, urging them to arm themselves with the fortunes of life with virtue and fortitude.

Read it: You can read the English edition at the Chawton House Library.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"In those days women strove to do and dare..."

"In those days women strove to do and dare what their fathers and brothers and husbands were doing, and many a stirring speech delivered in the Assembly or at the great political debate clubs had been born in the brain of a woman. They did not content themselves with a passive part, they were full of ardor, sinking individual aims and affections in the general conflict, and, ready to sacrifice all for their cause; they rushed into the battle of the nation impetuously and eagerly, and claimed the privilege of fighting for their country side by side with men. Olympe de Gouges expressed the general feeling of her sex when she said: 'Women have as good a right to mount the tribune as they have to ascend the scaffold.'"
 --Jeannette Van Alstine

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A self-portrait of Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux, 1791


A self-portrait of Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux, 1791

Rose-Adélaïde Ducreux (1761-1802) was the daughter of painter Joseph Ducreaux, best known for his experimental expression portraits and his royal portraits of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Rose-Adélaïde studied painting with her father and became an established painter in her own right in her 20s, making her first exhibition in 1786. She and her father debuted together at the Louvre Salon in 1791; Rose-Adélaïde's submission was the above self-portrait. Over the next 15 years, Rose-Adélaïde exhibited numerous portraits and self-portraits; however, much of her work has become untraceable over the years. Some of her now-known work had been previously attributed to other painters, including Jacques-Louis David, Antoine Vestier, and Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun. She was active from 1785 until her death from yellow fever or typhoid fever in 1802.

Monday, March 5, 2018

7 Books about 18th-Century Women in STEM Fields

Note: Although health/medicine is not traditionally considered STEM, I've decided to include medicine for the purposes of this list.

7 Books about 18th-Century Women in STEM Fields


The following women lived in a time when women were greatly discouraged and sometimes even legally barred from participating professionally in fields such as math, science, and medicine; despite these limitations, the women in this list dedicated their careers or even their entire lives to contributing--sometimes profoundly--to their respective fields.


Émilie du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment by Judith P. Zinsser
  • Émilie du Châtelet was a French mathematician and physicist who is best known for her opus Institutions de Physique and her translation of Isaac Newton's Principia, which contained her personal commentary that is now regarded as a profound contribution to Newtonian mechanics. 




Jane Colden: America's First Woman Botanist by Paula Ivaska Robbins
  •  Jane Colden was an American botanist who, though her work was never published in contemporary botany journals, spent years analyzing, illustrating and cataloguing American flora, resulting in an extensive, 340-entry manuscript.


The Lady Anatomist: The Life and Work of Anna Morandi Manzolini by Rebecca Messbarger
  • Anna Morandi Manzolini was an Italian anatomist, anatomical wax modeler and professor of anatomy whose detailed and accurate models and lectures on anatomy and dissection were highly regarded by physicians and students of anatomy throughout Europe.



Laura Bassi and Science in 18th Century Europe: The Extraordinary Life and Role of Italy's Pioneering Female Professor by Monique Frize
  • Laura Bassi was an Italian physicist and professor whose profound contributions to the study of physics in Europe resulted in academic appointments and a professorship at the University of Bologna, where she gave public lectures and used her professorship salary to pay for experimental research in physics and electricity.



The Quiet Revolution of Caroline Herschel: The Lost Heroine of Astronomy by Emily Winterburn
  •  Caroline Herschel was a German astronomer whose decades of work alongside her brother William Hersche resulted in the personal discovery of multiple comets, several important astronomical publications, and high honors such as the Royal Astronomical Society's Gold Medal.


The King's Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray by Nina Rattner Gelbart
  • Angélique du Coudray was a French midwife who is best known for her decades of work in advancing broader knowledge of proper prenatal care, infant delivery, and postnatal care throughout France; given a royal commission, she traveled throughout the country instructing both midwives and male physicians through her lectures and the first known life-size model of pregnant woman's reproductive system.




The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God by Massimo Mazzotti
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an Italian mathematician and professor who became the first woman to ever publish a mathematics handbook, which focused on differential and integral calculus, including her commentary on a mathematical curve which is known today as the Witch of Agnesi.