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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hope you're all safe

I hope all of you who are going through the severe weather conditions generated by Hurricane Sandy are all safe and sound. 
Please don't take any chances. 
I know many of you won't be connected if there is a power outage but some may have generators and some may have charged up your laptops before hand.
If so, please make sure your generators are vented to the outside so you don't gas yourselves with carbon monoxide.  And be careful with the candles.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fabulous thrift shop finds or Flighty mails of the parlours*

Nothing seemed to go right one morning recently so I thought oh well, just go with the flow. 
I went to my favourite thrift shop and had a look at the picture frames because you never quite know what you might find.
And there was a lovely mounted but unframed print of Victorian fashions with a description in French. 
While I am not particularly into the Victorian era, it was pretty and looked a worthy addition to my rogues gallery so I splurged the 20 cent asking price and brought it home.
It depicts modes of the day from 1834 from a fashion magazine called Le Follet Courriers des Salons* which was effectively the Vogue magazine of that era. 
There are a number of this magazine's fashion plates for sale online on eBay and antiquarian book sites.
I've had time to examine it more closely now and I've realised it has been properly mounted and there is an inventory number on the mounting.
I suspect it may be an original hand coloured print from the magazine - the leaf itself is quite good paper and has been fixed to another backing. Of course it could be a recent print made to look old but why then the backing and an inventory number?
I've done some research online and it is the correct dimensions for an original. Do you own any antique prints? Can you give me any pointers? 
Either way it's rather lovely and I smile to think of some fashion conscious french woman (the only kind) almost 180 years ago devouring her latest magazine analysing the styles the way we have done ever since. 
*If you can provide a translation of the title I'd be grateful because online translators hilariously provided the following:
  • the goblin mail fairs
  • the flighty mails of the parlors. (Hence the title of this post.)

Neither of which seems at all helpful.  
Individual translation of the words came up with "will o' the wisp or passing", "mail or post" and "salon or parlour", leading me my own dubious translation as 'Passing fashions of the salon by mail'.  Perhaps Flighty mails of the Parlours isn't far off.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Marie Antoinette possessions

Yes more! 
Literaturevixen kindly sent me links to two items that belonged to Marie Antoinette I hadn't seen before. 
One is this lovely fabric remnant on the Museum of London site
It's a richly decorated piece of a petticoat from a formal court dress believed to have been made for Marie Antoinette. 
The site says that Monsieur Besnard, an employee of the French royal wardrobe, took it to England in anticipation of the Queen's escape. When Marie Antoinette was executed in 1793, the Besnard family cut up the garment and shared the pieces out as relics of the Queen. 
It dates from 1780 and is a silk satin ground with velvet applique panels, embellished with gilt-metal embroidery, foil backed pastes and metal sequins. 
I wish there were more closeups of this piece.  I find it interesting that small pieces seem to have been cut out of it - perhaps to make individual keepsakes of the Queen. 
The colouring and even the design reminds me of the dress in Canada reputed to have belonged to Marie Antoinette. 
Whether the Queen actually wore this dress I don't know.  

The other item is a bedcover believed to have belonged to the Queen which was subsequently purchased by Axel Fersen at auction after her death. 
You can see it here - it's the cream coloured bedcover on this tent bed. Again, it would be lovely if they'd had a clearer picture. If you can read Swedish, here is the article about it.  

Then I was fiddling about with the search terms I'd be using and it's amazing what changing the odd word or two can reveal.  Instead of searching for Marie Antoinette's 'possessions', I tried 'belongings' and here's what I found.

Beautifully stamped with her royal crest is a lovely little travelling perfume flask - I've seen similar designs on leather book covers. I wonder if this little flask went with her on that sadly fateful journey to Varenne.
Then there are some more lovely items from the Musee Carnavalet.  This fan looks gorgeous - I wish we could see the design more clearly. 

Indispensable for any lady, this nécessaire oétui (little sewing kit) was beautifully cased in green enamel with gold edging. There is also what looks like a separate but matching scissor case.

And a better photo of those shoes I mentioned in a previous post. I don't think they look particularly comfortable, do you?  Then again that might be the angle of the photo.

If you know of any other MA items I haven't blogged about please drop me a comment with a link and I'll post about it.

18th century portrait progress

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will remember I decided to do an 18th century style portrait to put in an old oval wooden frame I bought at a flea market.
I overworked my first attempt so I decided to start again. I have kept the overworked one within eye shot to hopefully remind me to walk away instead of pushing on when things are NOT working out.
Since I have no one to sit for me, I have used one of my favourite portraits as a guide - the lovely Mary Robinson by John Hoppner.  Indeed 'there is something about Mary'!  Might as well use the best as a reference. 
And I am pleased with my progress to date.  Like Mary she is not, but she is a recognisably 18th century lady.  Still a way to go but I'm getting there.
Perhaps I will even get around to my dream of painting myself in 18th century style.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Marie Antoinette's carriage and Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria

I never realised Bulgaria had a Tsar, and even if I had I probably wouldn't have imagined any particular connection with Marie Antoinette (although that said royal families are always connected). So there is no way I'd have thought that anything as substantial as Marie Antoinette's carriage would be sitting somewhere in Bulgaria.
But apparently that is exactly where it is. 

It was given to Tsar Ferdinand I (Coburg) of Bulgaria and was in the 'Old Sofia' Museum until recently which contained many personal possessions of the Bulgarian Royal Family. The museum was being moved and I don't know where the carriage or the museum are now. 
I haven't discovered who gave the carriage to Ferdinand but he is also said to have given his wife, Princess Marie Louise of Parma sapphire and diamond earrings which once belonged to Marie Antoinette. And it doesn't end there. 
Ferdinand also inherited the 18th century Antol Manor in Slovakia which is now a museum. The manor features a gold salon which is referred to as the Salon of Marie Antoinette as it contains the furniture Maria Theresa gave her youngest daughter as a wedding present. 
Hopefully I will discover by what means that arrived in Slovakia soon.
Ferdinand seems to have made something of a hobby of collecting bits and pieces associated with the French Court.
He bought the pediment of the right-hand wing of the Chateau of Saint Cloud when it was being dismantled for his house in Euxinograd.
(Apparently the pediment from the left-hand wing is on the Chateau de Jeurre near Etampes, the main portcullis is at the Chateau de la Punta in Ajaccio and the bas-reliefs from the staircase are in the Chateau de Laeken in Belgium.)However here are some more photos of the carriage from the Alexander Palace Time Machine site.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The stays

Well I decided I needed help on the 'stays' front after the super large debacle I experienced with the commercial pattern.
So I had a custom pattern made by the lovely Alicia Schult at Littlebits Clothing Company.
So I have the pattern. I've had it for some months to be honest. Just no time and a house full of family.
I have read the book of instructions, some bits several times to get it stuck in my head.
I have also copied the pattern and cut out the pieces.
I have cut out and made up a test - whatever you call it.
I have tried to see if it fits and as best I can tell it does - my sister wasn't keen on helping me to check the fit so it's me, the mirror and a dislocated shoulder. 
So now I have no more excuses.
Excuse me but I think I'll just go and be sick now.
More as I progress.

A new favourite portrait - let me introduce you to Mrs Rogers

This is Mrs Daniel Denison Rogers (formerly Miss Abigail Bromfield) painted by John Singleton Copley circa 1784.  I have formally elevated this work to my list of 'fav 18th century portraits' and in fact 'favourite all time portraits'.
Never mind the rather banal clouds in the background, they merely exist to throw the spotlight quite firmly on the lady.
I like this portrait for any number of reasons, not least because the composition is quite different to most 18th century portraits. That warm sunset and the billowing garments give it more energy.  I love the artist's attention to the lady's dress - the skirt is so beautifully full and the sheen is marvellous. And I LOVE the hat - it's got soooo much going on up there!
And though windy, the lady herself seems quite serene, or should I say - 'composed' (hahaha little artistic joke there).  

Thankyou Melanie at Madame Guillotine for bringing this lovely work to my attention.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another Marie Antoinette dress fragment

I found this image of a dress fragment belonging to Marie Antoinette courtesy of Leah Marie Brown at her Titillating Tidbits of the Life and Times of Marie Antoinette blog, who found it on Gildings online auction website. 
Gildings decribed the item as:  "A mounted and framed piece of dress fabric, inscribed, 'Piece of one of Marie Antoinette's dresses bought by my grandmother when she was young from Marie Antoinette's femme de chambre, who was very old and poor and had to part from her souvenirs - Maria d'Accerdiaux', frame height 5½"."