Posts Tagged ‘France’

Charles-De-Gaulle

Charles De Gaulle: 40 years ago…

… the retired General and former President died at his home at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, aged 80. After what a life! A few brushstrokes here: a solid Catholic education, followed by a flatlining military career between the two World Wars. Not due to any lack of brilliance, mind you, but to De Gaulle’s annoying habit of speaking […]



Maria-Theresa-and-the-imperial-family

2nd of November 1755: birth of Marie-Antoinette

Or, to give her her proper birthname, Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen, fifteenth child of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I Stephen (né François-Etienne de Lorraine) and his wife, Empress Maria Theresa. The little Archduchess was born at the Palace of the Hofburg in Vienna. Within the imperial family the little girl was […]



Edith-Wharton

Kerfol, and other Edith Wharton ghost stories

I discovered these thanks to the discussions we had at two of my Yahoo lists, Eighteenth Century Worlds and Women Writers Through The Ages. I began with Mr. Jones and was fascinated by it. The multiple layers, the historical depth (the backstory takes place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries), the sense of […]



Mark-Twain-1871

Mark Twain at Versailles

I have mixed feelings towards Mark Twain. This is, after all, the man who dared write of Jane Austen, “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Shocking. Yes, I know, now some will tell us that he didn’t really […]



Madame-Elisabeth-of-France-daughter-of-Louis-XV

Mesdames, daughters of Louis XV

Once in a while I find lesser known pictures of these fascinating ladies, daughters of Louis XV and Queen Marie Leszczynska. I have also updated the posts. Check out the new images, in particular the beautiful portrait of Madame Louise, in her Carmelite’s scapulaire. Madame Elisabeth, the ambitious Duchess of Parma (left, by Nattier) Madame […]



the-french-mistress-susan-holloway-scott-cover

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 […]



Marie Antoinette Drouais

Marie-Antoinette in purple

This portrait of Marie-Antoinette by François-Hubert Drouais painted in 1773, when she was eighteen and still the Dauphine. This is to my knowledge the only of her many portraits where she is represented in a purple dress, with matching neck and hair ribbons. The black lace streamer in the background leads me to surmise that […]



Still life with Pumpkin by François Bonvin

Halloween in France

There was an attempt ten years or so ago to introduce the French to Halloween. It met at first with some success, born out of curiosity, but now the only signs of the holiday in Paris are EuroDisney posters in the metro, and elaborate decorations in the windows of a few high-end chocolatiers. Why did […]



The Pope in Paris: France and religion

Certainly France under the monarchy was “the eldest daughter of the Church” but its relations with the Church had not waited for the Revolution to become tense. During the Middle Ages, King Philippe IV le Bel (the Handsome), grandson of Saint Louis, had his envoy assault Pope Boniface VIII, who died as a result. Philippe […]



Caen, capital of Normandy, and remembrances of William the Conqueror and D-Day

This week-end I am off to Normandy for the birthday of my longtime friend Anne. She lives in the fine city of Caen, where she teaches law with extraordinary skill and passion (and a great sense of humor too.) Caen, as I hardly need to remind you, was one of the capitals, with Rouen, and […]