Sunday, April 10, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: Albert premier, ou Adeline, comédie héroïque

Today's Book: Albert premier, ou Adeline, comédie héroïque

Title: Albert premier, ou Adeline, comédie héroïque (Albert the First, or Adeline, a Heroic Comedie)

Author: A
ntoine Le Blanc de Guillet (1730-1799)

Publication: First published in French in 1775. Several printings were made in the 1770s.

Notes: A play in three acts about a widowed woman who is being threatened and slandered by an antagonistic gentleman; the emperor happens upon the woman's daughter and is inspired to help them. 

The cost for the 1776 edition was 11 sols or only 6 sols if you were a subscriber. 

Some parts of the play were very likely inspired by the very recent Flour War and the public's response to the new reign of Louis XVI. In one passage, a man complains to the emperor about storms that desolated the fields, and how the faithful people could only offer tears as tribute, to which the emperor responds that it will not be enough for him to free the poor from the tolls imposed by the law which they could not pay, but that he must also use the public treasury to relieve them.

Where you can read it: Available on Google Books in French: 1776 printing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: Adriene, ou les Aventures de la marquise de **

Today's Book: Adriene, ou les Aventures de la marquise de **

Title: Adriene, ou les Aventures de la marquise de ** (Adrienne, or the Adventure of the marquise de **)

Author: Pietro Chiari; translated by Nicholas de la Grange.

Publication: First published in Italian as La cantatrice per disgrazia in 1754. Published in French in 1768 and again in 1784.

Notes: 'Adrienne' was written in 6 parts, which were published in 2 volumes in French. The author also wrote numerous plays in addition to several other novels. The Prize in the Lottery, published in English in 1817, may be a very abridged English translation; it is roughly half the length of the French edition and there contain textual differences, but it is the only Chiari work that seems to fit the subject. Since I can't compare either French or English editions to the original Italian and be sure it's a translation (however the quality) I won't be adding it to the 'where you can read it' section.

Where you can read it: Both French volumes are available to read online for free on Google Books, in French. Volume I, Volume II. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: Adoulzin, Ou Les Dangers D'Une Mauvaise Education

A new post series! 'From the Library of Marie Antoinette' will be an exploration of the books found
in Marie Antoinette's boudoir library at the Petit Trianon. 

Today's Book: Adoulzin, Ou Les Dangers D'Une Mauvaise Education

Title: Adoulzin, Ou Les Dangers D'Une Mauvaise Education (Adoulzin, or the Dangers of a Bad Education) 

Author: Unknown or anonymous 

Publication:  First published in 1787, two volumes.

Notes: A moralistic novel intended to educate readers through a story, told in first person.   

Where you can read it: Both volumes are available to read online for free on Google Books, in French only: Volume I, Volume II

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marie Antoinette (1938) Costumes: Marie Antoinette's Striped Dauphine Gown

The "striped dauphine gown" is worn in the scene where Marie Antoinette is first visited by the duc d'Orleans, and where she and Louis-Auguste receive a snarky present from Madame du Barry.

The gown is notable for its style: although the scene is set sometime in the early 1770s, it is a chemise gown, which wasn't made popular until the 1780s. It is laid over wide panniers, which are more obvious in shots where Marie Antoinette pulls up one side of her skirt. The gown consists of white striped semi-sheer fabric trimmed with lace and a wide sash. The bodice is decorated with flowers, and Marie Antoinette wears a large matching flower on her head. The wide sash is tied into a bow in the back.

The color of the costume is white or perhaps slightly off-white; the semi-sheer striped fabric gives is a more off-white hue. The fabric appears similar to the material used in her Austrian night gown. The gown may have been worn in later MGM films, but this is unconfirmed.

Its current condition and whereabouts are unknown.



In Color

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Weekly Roundup

A weekly roundup highlighting some interesting Marie Antoinette (/Versailles/18th Century/Related) news and posts from around the web!


Tidbits and Treasures

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: A Day at Château de Fontainebleau by Guillaume Picon

A Day at the Château de Fontainebleau is a fascinating illustrated guide to the château de Fontainebleau, one of the most well-preserved, historically rich châteaus in the whole of France. It boasts more than 1,500 rooms and currently welcomes more than 500,000 visitors every year; visitors can enjoy not only the rich historical rooms of the château but its expansive and elegant gardens as well.

Fontainebleau is more than just a lavish palace: it is a historical site which Napoleon himself once described Fontainebleau as having "the shape and color of time." His poetic description is apt: eight centuries of history have passed through these highly decorative walls, which have housed everything from Renaissance kings to political prisoners to emperors and so much more. The early history of the palace is somewhat unclear, but during the reign of Francois I, the palace was transformed from just 'another' royal residence to a true cultural landmark. Francois I was a significant patron of the arts and this showed in the attention he lavished on Fontainebleau.

Despite several periods of stagnation due to war and economic troubles, Fontainebleau continued to be developed and cultivated by the French kings and their royal families. In 1665, Pierre de Bourdeille wrote regarding Henri IV's massive refurbishment of the palace: "Our great king Henri IV has since decorated and enriched this residence a hundred times better, so that it is now changed beyond recognition from its former state ... in short, a little paradise in France." Under the regency of Anne of Austria, even more lavish projects were undertaken at the château; the furnishings in her personal bedchamber, for example, were all hung with real cloth of cold, while her chairs were upholstered in cloth of gold embellished with silver flowers.

[©Eric Sander, from A Day at Château de Fontainebleau (Flammarion, 2015)]
Begun under François I, the loggia was converted into a ballroom by Henri II. The frescoes were painted between 1550 and 1558 by Niccolò dell’Abbate and his team, after drawings by Primaticcio.

 But not every king was able to successfully complete their plans for Fontainebleau. Louis XV had a "grand design" for the palace, which would involve completely overhauling the entire château. However, the Seven Years War ensured that his "grand design" would be unfinished. He did manage to create a series of well loved, smaller royal apartments on the ground floor (which no longer survive today) and new wing built by Jacques and Ange-Jacques Gabriel---though this new wing, sadly, required the destruction of the masterpiece Ulysses Gallery built for Henri II.

[©Eric Sander, from A Day at Château de Fontainebleau (Flammarion, 2015).]
Looking up to the ceiling of the King’s Staircase, built during the reign of Louis XV in the former bedchamber of the Duchesse d’Étampes, mistress to François I. The wall decorations date from the  Renaissance. The ceiling painting of the Apotheosis of Alexander the Great was carried out under Louis-Philippe by Abel de Pujol.

Under the reign of Louis XVI, two special apartments were added for Marie Antoinette: a Turkish boudoir and, directly below it, the Boudoir de la Reine. These boudoirs were designed as private areas for the queen, who wanted somewhere she could withdraw from the public court at Fontiainebleau. But the Bourbon presence at Fontainebleau did not last through the 18th century. Although the palace and many of its decorations remained remarkably intact, personal objects and royal furniture were requisitioned by the revolutionary government. Some of the items were sold at auction (which, incidentally, is how this commode from the apartment of Louis XVI at Fontainebleau ended up in Detroit, Michigan!) while others were stored away. 

 [©Eric Sander, from A Day at Château de Fontainebleau (Flammarion, 2015).]
Perched on a laurel wreath, one of the imperial eagles in the Throne Room clutches Zeus’s thunderbolt in its claws. The fabric draping the dais is embroidered with bees, the symbol that replaced the royal fleur-de-lis. 

The rise of Napoleon occasioned another chapter in Fontainebleau's history, albeit not a dramatic one. Napoleon re-purposed some of the palace's rooms (the bedchamber of Louis XVI became Napoleon's throne room, while one of Marie Antoinette's boudoirs became Empress Josephine's bedchamber for a time) but did not engage in any major restorations or building projects. Some vestiges of Napoleon's reign can still be found in the palace, such as this imperial "N" in the throne room. 

Likewise, the returning Bourbons did not pay much attention to Fontainebleau outside of some minor restorative work and the addition of more Bourbon-minded artwork and sculptures, which were designed to be a symbol of the return of a Bourbon presence in France. Finally, during the reign of Louis-Philippe, the palace underwent significant restorations--though critics of Louis-Philippe noted that the restorations were not always in the spirit of the palace's historical significant. Without Louis-Philippe's restorations, however, much of Fontainebleau's historical rooms and architecture would surely have decayed beyond repair in just a few short decades. The palace required further restorations in the early 20th century, which were funded by John D. Rockefeller, who also funded major restorations at Versailles.

Fontainebleau, when compared to other French royal residences such as Versailles, is relatively unrepresented in the publishing world.  In fact, this book is one of the few books on the palace to be published in English in the last few decades! That is one of the reasons A Day at the Château de Fontainebleau is an important addition to the recent 'Day' books published by Flammarion. It provides a knowledgeable, insightful look at the history, development, decay and eventual restoration of this culturally significant French royal palace; the second section of the book covers the pleasures of the palace, including the lavish entertainments and hunting parties that were once held there. The text is supplemented by quotes from contemporaries who visited the palace and admired its wonders first hand. The book contains 170 crystal clear color photographs, highlighting some of the most exquisite rooms, paintings, sculptures and even intricate details that showcase why Fontainebleau is such a historical treasure. 

I highly recommend A Day at the Château de Fontainebleau for anyone with an interest in French history, French architecture, and historical buildings.

[I was provided a review copy by the publisher.]

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekly Roundup

A weekly roundup highlighting some interesting Marie Antoinette (/Versailles/18th Century/Related) news and posts from around the web! [note: I decided to bring back this feature for Saturdays]


Tidbits and Treasures