Posts Tagged ‘17th century’


Merry Christmas!

Dear friends and readers, All my best wishes of a spiritual, peaceful and joyful holiday. As for me, I will brave the snows of this unusually harsh winter (yes, Paris and its region are still blanketed in white) to join my family for the occasion. I wish to share with you this beautiful Nativity by […]


Salvator Rosa, painter of witches, bandits and allegories

Salvator Rosa, a 17th century Italian painter, should be better known. Judge for yourself… Innovative, provocative, disturbing, haunting, macabre… one cannot remain indifferent to Salvator Rosa’s art. See for instance this allegory of Poetry. The dark palette, stark, almost neutral background, brooding expression of the model create a powerful image. So does this self-portrait of […]

Princesse de Montpensier Melanie Thierry

The Princess de Montpensier, by Madame de Lafayette (and now Bertrand Tavernier)

Madame de Lafayette’s most famous work is -righty- the Princess de Clèves, mais she also wrote memoirs and short stories. One of them, the Princess de Montpensier, is available online in English as well as the beautiful, original 17th century French version. Montpensier does not show the same mastery as Clèves, written 16 years years […]


Louise de Kéroualle, Charles II’s French mistress: a discussion with Susan Holloway Scott

Every time I visit the Getty Center in Los Angeles, I pay a visit to the splendid portrait of Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, by Sir Peter Lely. I knew of my countrywoman Louise, royal mistress, French agent in London and one of the 17th century’s famous beauties. However, when I read Susan Holloway […]


Boy blowing bubbles, by Frans van Mieris, and happy Mother’s Day!

It is always a pleasure to look for illustrations for Mother’s Day. This year I hesitated between Rubens, with his portraits of his young wife, Helene Fourment, and their children, and Renoir. But it is this Boy blowing bubbles, by the Dutch painter Frans van Mieris, that caught my attention.

Cognacq-Jay snuff box mask

Masked ladies (gentlemen too…)

Susan Holloway Scott has a great post on masks in the 17th century. They protected ladies’ complexions from the attacks of the sun and cold, but they were also most convenient for discreet assignations… In 18th century France, their use became limited to the balls and celebrations that marked the revelry of Carnival. This is […]

Zurbaran St Francis of Assisi

The sacred made real: 17th century religious art from Spain

The first I heard from this exhibition was from this review in The Independent. What struck me, apart from the critic’s confusion about the religious and historical background, was the obvious emotional impact of the show. Then I saw this better informed review in The Art Tribune and knew I could not afford to miss this […]

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 […]

18th century French midwife diploma

Childbirth in the 17th and 18th centuries

Holly Tucker at Wonders and Marvels posted a great entry on early midwifery. I also call your attention to her other post, not for the faint of heart, on C-sections before anesthesia. It is estimated that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, one woman out of two died in childbirth. Staggering. How could it not […]

Before Wall Street: tulip mania

To bail out, or not to bail out? Commentators are bringing up images of the French Revolution, as with any other political topic du jour. I prefer this featured Wikipedia entry, which takes us back to 1637 in the Netherlands, when one single tulip bulb was worth as much as 12 acres of land. Those […]