I recently received a few postcards from a series of cards made to commemorate a hairstyle/hairstyling exposition in Antwerp, Belgium. Many of the hairstyles featured in the cards were inspired by historical coiffures, including the following two that I purchased, which are inspired by hairstyle in the Louis XVI era.
image: A portrait of Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé by an unknown artist. 18th century.
Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé was a prince of the blood who inherited, among several other prestigious estates, the chateau de Chantilly, which had been in his family for many years. It was this particular Condé who overhauled the Chantilly grounds and ordered the construction of an English-style garden, including a hamlet. The hamlet and gardens at Chantilly would be an inspiration for Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon gardens several years later.
In 1780, Anne-Rosalie Filleul (born Anne-Rosalie Boquet) was hired to paint views of the estate, with an emphasis on its lush English-style gardens. Filluel was a popular artist whose work was noticed by Marie Antoinette, who eventually commissioned her to paint several portraits of the royal family. Of these royal portraits, only a few--such as her portrait of the Artois children--survived the revolution.
image: A portrait of the children of the comte d'Artois by Anne-Rosalie Filleul. 1781.
Filleul, like many of her royal paintings, did not survive the revolution. She was denounced to the Committee of Public Safety for wearing mourning for Louis XVI in 1794, and was arrested for attempting to sell royally commissioned furniture from the Chateau de la Muette. Anne-Rosalie had once lived at Muette and was appointed Superintendent of the chateau by Marie Antoinette after her husband's death. However, because all royally commissioned furniture was considered seized property of the new Republic, Anne-Rosalie, along with companion Marguerite-Émilie Chalgri, were charged with 'theft and concealment of property belonging to the Republic.' They were found guilty and sentenced to death.
Of the Filluel paintings that did survive to present day, few are quite as charming as her pastel paintings of the Chateau de Chantilly gardens. Her paintings capture the simple, sometimes rustic, yet overwhelmingly beautiful English-style gardens that came into vogue among the French upper elite in the 1770s and 1780s.
image: The Grand Canal at the Chateau de Chantilly
This portrait of a young Madame Elisabeth by Joseph Ducreux was painted in 1770, the same year that her new sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette, arrived from Vienna.
[credit: (C) RMN-Grand Palais / Daniel Arnaudet]
Elisabeth would have been only 5 or 6 at the time of the sitting. Although like many painted children, her face seems more mature than her years, there is still an element of cherubic youthfulness to her face in this portrait. This is exemplified by the simple nature of her headdress, which seems to be hiding a relatively simple and unadorned hairstyle.
[credit: (C) RMN-Grand Palais / Daniel Arnaudet]
Elisabeth is holding a small dog, likely a pug puppy, in the painting. Pugs during this time period had longer snouts and legs than their modern counterparts; it was not until about the 1860s that pugs with flatter faces and stouter bodies began to find their way onto the laps of the elite.
The lace details on her dress and her sleeve are also clear in this cropped detail from the portrait. I especially love the delicacy of the lace on her dress and bodice. The dress Elisabeth is wearing also appears less formal (and much more comfortable!) than some of the dresses worn by many European royalty in portraits, despite their young ages. Perhaps this portrait was intended for her private apartments, rather than any sort of formal display.
Ducreaux's portrait of the young Elisabeth was recently displayed as part of the recent Madame Elisabeth exhibition in France.
Paris Les Boulevards is a new book from Rizzoli publishing that is perfect for anyone with a love or fascination for that most famous of cities, Paris. Paris Les Boulevards is actually a reproduction of a 19th century book illustrated by Charles Franck, who meticulously recreated some of the most famous boulevards in the city. A copy of the original book was discovered by book collector Neale M. Albert in a bookstore; there are, in fact, only two known copies of the original book still in existence.
The new edition also contains some new informational text by Pamela Golbin in addition to the reproduced full illustrations that show the beauty of the boulevards of 19th century Paris. Each illustration is exquisitely detailed, down to the windows of each building and the elegant horse drawn carriages and 19th century men and women strolling amidst the grandeur of old Paris. In her introduction, Golbin rightly describes the book as being "like a Google map from a bygone age."
This new edition of Paris Les Boulevards smartly recreates the unique gatefold binding of the original, which can be folded out to reveal a panoramic of the entire boulevard, giving a much fuller view of the long and illustrious Paris boulevards featured in the book.
I was a bit worried that the unfolding and refolding each section would be difficult, especially since the book is on the smaller side; however, I have re-read the book a few times since receiving it and have had no problems with the folding. This is a plus if you, like me, enjoy viewing the illustrations as full panoramas.
Paris Les Boulevards is a charming, interesting look at the boulevards of Paris in all their 19th century glory. I recommend this book for anyone with a love of Paris or an interest in 19th century French history. I would also recommend it for anyone with an interest in rare books and reproductions.
Paris Les Boulevards will be available from Rizzoli on March 31st, 2015.
[I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher.]
The wedding gown for Marie Antoinettte in the film was so sumptuous that it prompted famous fashion columnist and editor Diana Vreeland to say: "Hollywood has the most expensive couture in the world. The details, the workmanship, are second to none."
The wedding gown is the heaviest costume in the film, weighing an estimated 108 lbs. The wedding gown was made with more than 500 yards of satin; thousands of seed pearls were hand sewn into the dress, along with hand-embroidered flowers, ribbons and other designs. The dress's long train was also hand-embroidered. Marie Antoinette wears a tiara with dripping pearls, aecklace with alternating pearls and diamond and pearl earrings with the costume.
The exact color of the dress is technically unknown, however it was made with white satin and silver thread for some of the embroidery, so the dress is likely white with silver (and other colors) used for the various embellishments. It may have been reused in other MGM films from the late 30s, 40s and 50s, but this is unconfirmed.