Archive for the ‘18th Century Life’ Category

18h century dress Lacma

18th century costumes at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently acquired a collection of 250 pieces, including many 18th century items, to expand its Costume and Textiles Department, which you can browse online. More details here. Unfortunately these new acquisitions, which are supposed to put LACMA  on a par with the Met in this regard, are not […]

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Louis XIV and his nurse

Birth control in the 18th century

Married women, in the 17th and 18th centuries, would become pregnant on average five or six times. This is far less than “natural” fecundity. So what was happening? For one thing, people married relatively late. In 1789 France, the average age of first-time couples was 26.5 for brides and 28.5 for grooms. True, nobles married […]

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Marie Antoinette childbirth

Childbirth in the 17th and 18th centuries

You may remember my earlier post on this topic. The comment trail started a fascinating discussion of the rates of maternal death in early-modern Europe. Now Holly Tucker, Associate Professor of Medical History, French and Italian at Vanderbilt University (and owner of the Wonders and Marvels blog) kindly agreed to research the issue for the […]

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Laperouse bust

The Lapérouse expedition: travels and mystery

Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse was a French naval officer who fought on the American side during the Independence War. He distinguished himself by his humane treatment of British prisoners of war. It is interesting to note that, already in the 18th century, the treatment of prisoners of war was considered a test of […]

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Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire Reynolds

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire: literature and politics

Georgiana writes – anonymously – a novel titled The Sylph. It depicts the depraved mores of the British aristocracy from an insider’s point of view. For the contemporaries the identity of the author is an open secret. The Sylph is an instant commercial success and goes through four print runs. Amanda Foreman herself does not […]

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Fragonard The debut of the model

The model’s debut: Fragonard’s look at the loss of innocence

I already mentioned that Fragonard is one of my favorite painters and that I am honored to have a detail of one of his paintings adorn the cover of Mistress of the Revolution. A very versatile artist, equally at ease with religious themes, insightful portraits and light, sometimes libertine scenes. This painting, Les débuts du […]

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Watteau Pleasures of the Ball

The sweetness of living

More than twenty years after the fact, the heroine of Mistress of the Revolution, Gabrielle de Montserrat, reminisces about the lifestyle she, and  other nobles, enjoyed during the years that immediately preceded the French Revolution. She is penniless, but has been befriended and welcomed in Paris by an elderly relation, the Duchess d’Arpajon. The Duchess […]

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Vigee Lebrun Marquises Pezay and Rouge

Fashions in Paris before the Revolution

By now you know all about the proper attire required from the ladies of the Court. But the same women, hampered by their cumbersome paniers in Versailles, dressed quite differently, and in my opinion more elegantly, in Paris. Let us listen to the heroine of Mistress of the Revolution, Gabrielle de Montserrat: In the capital, […]

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18th century Paris banks of the Seine

Discovering Paris in the 18th century

The year is 1787. In my first novel, Mistress of the Revolution, young provincial Gabrielle de Montserrat arrives in Paris, under the protection of her friend the Chevalier  des Huttes. Let us discover the city with her. Parisians are fond of calling provincials culs-terreux, which literally translates as “dirty asses”, but what struck me in […]

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18th century French court dress 1778

Dressing for Court, and preparing to glide…

So far in this series we have followed the heroine of Mistress of the Revolution, Gabrielle de Montserrat, to Versailles on several occasions. How was she dressed then? Well, a lady was supposed to look like the fashion plate. The legend translates as “Young lady of quality in great dress, wearing an elegant bonnet or […]

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