The beginning of a journey!

François Boucher Mme de Pompadour, 1756

Greetings, dear freind and welcome!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Emmanuel Roy, which means a  »gift from god » in hebrew. My last name means  »king », Roy, in french. For a long time in my childhood, I taught I was an angel, accidently send back on heart by mistake, lol! And I always felt that my job here on earth was to help people by making this world look better, prettyer. It is what I’m good at.

As a profession, I’m a tailor, patern maker for theater and film industry. Did that with passion for many years and put a lot of time love and patience doing so. But, since I left touring with a show last year, and coudn’t find a job when I came back home. The theater scene is low and working by cotract is never secure. So I had an idea:

I taught of inviting you to a jerny trought time, plunging back in the 18th century and recreate a wardrobe of the period, having Madame de Pompadour as a client. With no cheeting and all by hand. I want to take you with me on this experience, to learn with me my passion for my work, a bit of myself, and all that I know about that particular segment of time, so rich of develloppement of all sorts, economic, demographic, artistic and on.

This blog will hopefully help me working on it everyday, and give a push to my creation. So day one, patern for a french corset 1745, here we go! Please note that everything you might real here is under the protection of the law of author rights. Any information, partial or total copies on what you might read in this bolg is passible of pursuit against it.

This blog is presented showing the latest articals at first so, if you want to start at the beginning with me, please go at the very bottom of the latest page to go back in time! Feel free to comment on anything you wish, under any article, and if you like what you read, please show your appreciation by voting for this blog at:

Publié dans : History | le 24 mai, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

69. Venus, Pompadour and Boucher.

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For painters and sculptors, and starting somewhere after the middel age, plunging back onto mythological scenery provided an exquisite excuse for treating the nude freely. The rising of Catholicism in society prohibited nudity while mythology venerated it. Trough out the hole 18th century, archaeological discoveries and infatuation on Greek and Roman society would have an incredible impact over arts and art of living. Each period using this influence it’s own way according to the taste of the day and the pursue of their ideal world in paintings and art in general.

For Madame de Pompadour, as one as many others, to use that mythologic influence was again and always for her a way to secure her place at court and in the heart of her beloved king. She was concern to build a body of images of herself to keep the attention on her, as to permanently freeze her beauty on paper anyway, of her young years trough time. And there were no one as François Boucher to accomplish the task. The pair Boucher-Pompadour would be a win win situation and would provide us a remarkable view of this mid century idealistic world of art.

When Rococo movement was plunging once again onto Mythology for inspiration, it did with gallantry (called  »l’art gallant ») and served then as a higher ideal of virtue of man, without any artifice of civilization, free in it’s natural state and away from cities. The rococo set itself in opposition of the artistic norms codified in the age of Baroque: Rococo was about lightness, irony, fantasy, elegant asymmetry, while Baroque focused on luxuriant, monumental, heroism and dignity. Baroque was about a statement of power and dygnity while Rococo rejected the formal pursuit for the benefits of a pleasurable life. An idea that would unfortunately lead to the destruction of monarchy in France, since it contributed so little to the  »public virtue ».

Speaking about  »public », Pompadour was not at all opposed to the idea of art representing herself for a wider public use. However, her more pressing commitment in ordering art was for private needs and to secure her place at court. She, at first, employed Boucher to decorate her chateau at Bellevue, for her bedroom and on settings to provide the scenery for her plays to amuse the King. She used art to embellish her life in ways which affected the identity she presented to King and courtiers.

So, from 1737, the Royal Academy of painting and sculpture organized public expositions for about 400 new objects of art every two years in the square salon of the Louvres. Because of the name given to the room, the exposition was simply called  »Salon », which made echo to the salons (see article #54) and provided a new subject for intellectuals to speak about. Critics were born! And the most influent of them was Denis Diderot. We’ll get back one of these days to speak about him.

For Pompadour, who could feel the mood of her period, in which notions of  »connoisseurs » among collectors were being refined and intellectualized, she played the role of a cultural accumulator: merely commissioning, with new painters that she helped to get famous, while the propaganda of her image of prestige was emplyfied and commercialised. No wonder that in 1765, Boucher was to become director of the academy, found himself a place to work directly at the Louvres and became the first painter of the King.

Pompadour did not invent rococo, she did not give it it’s chance either, but she did make it lived! Since the end of Louis XIV reign is link to a decline of large scale commissioning and most artists suffered from it. In the regency, the only work done at Versailles was the ceiling of the Salon of Hercules, completed in 1736. Then Pompadour’s role in history was to favoring the painters of her time, so she did.

Whether for a play, a sculpture, a painting or porcelains, Pompadour’s ideal beauty and charm lies often in combining her, or a lady that recall her face frame, depicted as Venus and Eros. Not giving herself to the king, and often choosing among ladies some stupid beautiful girls to fulfill the  »task », she give herself the role of the sexual organizer for the king.

But when the  »work » was accomplish, the girl was to get out for Madame the Marquise to take place for the after sex. While painting were keeping the attention of sexual desire of the King towards her. But meanwhile, she was choosing Venus to represent her as a model of virginity, always at the center of attention in the composition, always with wither skin then the other subjects, showing to her king a total devotion and loyalty. As always with our favorite, under frivolities and cheerful arrangement of pastel shades, lies true virtue of the heart, smartness and devotion. That is what I call a lady!

Note that the second painting you see in here today was commitionned by the king to her, installed in her bathroom at Versailles, and that the  »Toilette de Vénus » is making reference to the famous morning cessions originally from her. (see artical #12)

Publié dans : Non classé | le 5 décembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

68. Le Salon De Venus.

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Roman Goddess of love and beauty, gifted with immense power, Venus was a fearsome divinity: she is more or less responsible of why there is something instead of nothing on hearth.

Venus’ name might embody the honors and gifts to the divine when seeking their favors: such acts can be interpreted as the seduction of gods by mortals. This function is, in the etymological relationship of the root, *venes- with Latin venenum (poison, venom), in the sense of a magic charm.

Venus can also be a fearsome divinity, as it often symbolizes the passion that nothing stop, making fools of those that love she wants to lose, she devastates even legitimate unions, pushing husband to adultery, promotes fertility in illegitimate love and encourages mortals to all pleasures as well as the vices.

The coronation of Venus by the Graces, a painting by R.A. Houasse, that we can see on the sealing of this magnificent room, is surrounded by notorious events on the life of the young king, are all treated in  »trompe l’oeil » and giving the aspect of being statues. This composition, among with the work given by Jacques Rousseau on the walls, painted courses and galleries of ancient palaces, with a representation of Meleager and Atalanta between the windows.

All being a mix between Roman and Greek influence combine with real events in the life of the monarch, like Alexander marring Roxanne making reference of the wedding of the king, while the centered statue representing the young Louis XIV (Jean Warin) in roman gowns, seem surrounded and protected by a shell. The king was about 30 years old when this portrait of him had being done, reflecting the beginning of his  »own » reign, not being anymore influenced by others.

The room (8.90 m x 7.38 m x 13.27 m) was created between 1677 and 1680, once again by Le Brun. The décor here being the most Baroque of all the rooms in the king’s apartments, it is also the room where everything seems to respond like if statues, architecture and sculptures are speaking together.

The Venus salon was destined, on  »soirs d’appartement » (evenings reserved to court use only), to serve a light dinner on great tables adorned with silver candlesticks, where pyramid of rare fruits were available, like oranges and lemon.

The lighting in the room consisted of two large chandeliers of silver and eight crystal chandeliers supported by gilded pedestal. Green velvet trimmed with gold adorned doors and stools. Columns and pilasters of the Ionic order, done in Rance marble, adorned the walls.

The  »Roi Soleil » lived there a brilliant life, being watched while eating by the goddess of love and all creation.

Publié dans : History | le 30 novembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

67. The Ambassadors Staircasse.

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The ambassadors who came to pay their respects to King Louis XIV, had first to pass in the royal court of Versailles, then under three arches closed by gates before passing another small hallway to reach this staircasse of an impressive height and waited there to be invited in the king’s appartments before a pompous entrance in the hall of mirrors or at an official dinner served in the Venus Salon. Meeting the french monarch, king of the world, was a solemn act, so was the room, preparing mentally all guests to meet the sun on earth!

Louis XIV made build the staircase with the greatest splendor possible in order to produce a strong impression on them, an impression they would transmit to their respective sovereigns. It was a phenomenal thing according to the descriptions of the time. The entrance was leadin from one end to the Venus salon, the other entrance getting you to the living room of Diana.

Its construction lasted from 1672 to 1679 and was commissioned to the architect François d’Orbay, who imagines steps of French marble in red, green, white and gray color, then a fountain in the hollow of a niche, surmounted by a antique group (gift from Italian prince Alexander Albani to Louis XIV) can be seeing.

Between the columns and pilasters, there are frescoes painted by De Vandermeulen. Le Brun painted the large cornice symbolizing the four major parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America, who all admires the French monarch in it’s splendor.

The vault also is covered with paintings that claim says the French victories, the magnificence of the king, his power, his authority over the world!

On the ceiling, a skylight is not without to remind us the link created between our dear Louis and Sun. The skylight also being called  »verrière zénithale ».

Louis XV demolished the Ambassadors’ Staircase and reformed a part of Versailles to build small charming rooms. The space was needed to permit our beloved Pompadour to present Campistron’s Opera and Lully in 1749, since it was the only room enough tall to present such opera. Then, in 1752, the place had being completely destroyed to build the apartments of the king’s daughters.

The pictures of the room you can see today are drawings from the time and computerized reconstitutions. The second last picture is a painting from Jean-Leon Gérôme, the last one is our favorite (Pompadour) on stage, all busy to  »play » for her king and please him without giving sex!

Publié dans : Non classé | le 17 novembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

66.Les appartements du roi: Salon de l’abondance.

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The  »Drawing Room of Plenty » was build in 1680 for Louis XIV to store rare paintings. At first, it was to be nothing more then a hallway, a Cabinet, for objects of art and a storage room for the fabulous collection of gold medals, locked in boxes inlaid with carved copper and tortoise shell.

The painted ceiling, a work from René-Antoine Houasse, who was student of Lebrun. Was painted around 1683 and represent the Abundance and Liberality: all around the ceiling, young men and young girls hold rares objects and the royal silverware, while looking toward the visitors.

At the center, we can appreciate the allegory of the Royal Magnificence and the progress done on great arts during his reign, while the four bronze busts around the room represent the descendants of Louis XIV. On both sides of the door, we see paintings of his son, the Dauphin and his oldest grand-son, the Duke of Burgundy. His grand-son, King Philip V of Spain, all three works are due to the talent of Hyacinthe Rigaud. Then, on the left, his great-grand-son, the future Louis XV, is one of the many copies of a lost original painting by Jean-Baptiste Van Loo.

Every Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, considered  »Soirs d’Appartement » (apartments evenings), the room was becoming alive: these unofficial nights of entertainments where we can practice all sorts of games like cards, billiards or backgammon.

Valets were serving refreshments on the three set tables, like tea or coffee, whine and liquors. Most of the time, the evening was starting with a concert, continuing with dances and games which it seems people bet big. Then, when the time of the Grand Couvert comes, all guests were invited to the Venus Salon for a copious dinner.

We can also see in the room the great Royal nave represented above the door. The nave of the king, a jewel-shaped vessel dismasted, was placed on the table of the sovereign for special occasions, or at buffet. Symbol of power, that everyone should welcome the transition. It contained the towel of the king.

On the time of Louis XIV, every simple acts were becoming sacred and done prestigiously, even wipe the mouth of the sovereign!

Publié dans : Non classé | le 13 novembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

65. The apartments of the King: The Hercules Room.

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This room served as a chapel from 1682 until the new chapel inaugurated in 1710. The Hercules Room was ordered at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, by the very fact that it was the last room created by this ruler. It served mostly during his reign as a place of passage between the north wing and the central body of the castle. Not being considered part of the great apartments properly speaking, it is nevertheless the most broad: 18.32 meters high, 13.85 wide and 11.57 long.

Robert de Cotte was responsible for it’s decoration, which began in 1712 to stop at the King’s death in 1715. It was not until the end of the regency (in 1725) to see the work begin again.

The walls are covered with marble summers and 230 pillars are round and decorated with bases and capitals of gilt bronze. They support a cornice decorated with trophies and consoles.

A monumental painting of Veronese, The Supper with Simon, was originally intended for the convent of the Servants in Venice and dates from about 1570. It was offered to Louis XIV so that it helps the Republic in the war against the Turks. Another Veronese’s painting adorns the top of the marble fireplace: Rebecca and Eliezer, painting of 2.40 meters by 3.66 is dated between 1550 and 1580. Its frame was made by Jacques Verbeckt.

While The Apotheosis of Hercules dominates the ceiling: Francois Lemoine completed this masterpiece in 1736, are composed of 142 characters and are the largest ceiling painting on canvas in Europe. No wonder that the inauguration of the canvas, Lemoine was appointed first painter to the king. It was however the last project of art of this painter who commit suicide shortly after. This painting depicts Hercules, the hero who rises to the sky near the gods.
Hercules, therefore, son of Jupiter and Alcimène, shows its strength, being just a few months old, strangling the serpents sent by Juno to kill him by jealousy against Alcimène.

Juno wont stop there and leads Hercules to madness and delusion, bringing him even to kill his unique children and, to atone for this crime to serve a king who orders him to accomplish 12 impossible works. Obviously he would all pass it through and Hercules is still judged for it as a symbol of strength and energy. The surname given to the monarch, ”Le Roi Soleil”, was given to him when he was dressed that way in a ballet created by J-B Lully.

Not surprising that Louis XIV himself was associated with the sun! And to Apollo, gods of the arts. The Greeks and Romans mythology went back in fashion in art for the pleasure of the king, while Archaeological digs are prevalent throughout all the 18th century. It is all precursor of neoclassical and Napoleonic Empire where women are trying to resemble the Greek statues, even to risk the pneumonia and not hesitating to drop their robes of silk cloth to look like these statues!

That room saw great events happening under it’s wing, like the great dress ball of January 26th, 1739, for the wedding of the oldest dauther of LouisXV with the Spanish Infant. Also some larges covered suppers happended there, like in 1769, for the marriage of the Duke of Chartres, then in 1782 for the birth of the Dauphin. The room also received the ambassadors of Tippoo Sahib in 1788 and the Sultan of Mysore the same year. There also Louis XVI signed a decree proclaming his fidelity in october 6th, 1789, to the National Assembly.66.Les appartements du roi: Salon de l’abondance.

Publié dans : Non classé | le 11 novembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

55. The Breafast.

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In this first painting from Hupert Robert, 1772,  »A servant read aloud to Madame Geoffrin. » Marie-Thérèse Geoffrin maintained a famous salon that was frequented in the latter half of the century by all the fine minds of the time: Diderot, d’Alembert, François Boucher, and you might guess, Hupert Robert.

We see her having a cup of tea or perhaps chocolate, the new fashionable morning drink, while her servant reads her a passage from a novel. Reading aloud was one of the jobs delegated to male servants. The masters of great houses preferred their menservants to be educated, which accounts for the very high levels of literacy among their staff. Here, madame Geoffrin is having her breakfast.

At about this time, the morning meal in wealthy French homes began to take the form familiar for us today: hot, sweet drinks with bread and ham, brioches, croissants. In the country, where people got up earlier and needed more substantial food before working in the fields, the day began with a thick soup, often mixed with wine. The first meal of the day was also including eggs and fresh and cured meats. No doubt the pace of life and the intellectual activities of a woman of letters were such that she could easily do with a light morning refreshment. In any case, a woman in high society was duty-bound to have the appetite of a sparrow.

From the middle ages through the 17th century, members of every social class ate the day’s two main meals at about the same time everyday: dinner was in the middle of the day, at noon or one o’clock, and supper was in the evening. But in the 18th century well-to-do people throughout Europe began taking their meals later and later, as they began frequenting theaters and concert halls and having a more active night life than before.

For the elite of France, lunch became the midday meal, dinner was served in the late afternoon, and supper was eaten after the theater, just before midnight. While artisans and peasants remained firmly tied to the rhythms of the sun and took their meals accordingly.

The second picture, painted by J-F de Troy and called  »Le déjeuner des huitres », was ordered by Louis the 15th in 1735 for his dining room of Versailles, where an other new drink was added in the copious morning meal: the Champagne! This beverage had being invented at the end of the 17th century by don Perignon, in the abbey of Hautevillers. The beverage made quite an impression at court, while guests had the surprise of their life to see a cap opening by itself!

This remarkable painting show us the characteristic libertine spirit of the period, revealing precious knowledge about the new reality of the French with dying light, with new social, cultural, politic and cultural views. Inspired by their king, they were living without moral, as if everyday was the last, enjoying everything they could, having taste for luxury and debauchery, being only concentrated in the joy life could bring them. Then, what a better way for them, to start the orgy in the morning, with champagne and ousters!

Publié dans : History | le 14 septembre, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

17. Madonna of the 18th century.

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Since yesterday we had felt on a more ”modern” subject of interest, I wanted with you to come back on the performance that Madonna gave at the 1990 MTV awards. Maybe you remember on day 11 I think, when I compared Mme de Pompadour with her. As a matter of fact, they do have a lot in common.

They both started with nothing and became more rich than anybody can dream to be. They both used the best artists of their time and had both an incredible impact into art. Their commercialisation and success hold on their ability to keep the interest of others on them, by commercialise their own self as product of merchandising. They masteries the art of reinventing themselves and play with their image. And had build their empire with their sex appeal…

But I wonder If Madonna knew, when she decided to dress that way ( by the way, my lynx eye remarked, from the pattern of embroidery, that this dress was worn by Glenn Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the same ) that not only the garment respond to a need of being attractive, it’s purpose being to excite sexually the other sex. And was also built and think….for sexual activity! Hmm didn’t I promise crusty facts?!!

A bit of me today, you can see a watercolour painting that I started about a decade ago. Yes, I don’t think three life time
would be enough to accomplish all the things I have in mind. If only hands were going as the same paste as the brain!

Publié dans : History | le 24 mai, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

11. Good Morning!

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Our little seamstress knock at the door, bend and wait at the porch to get introduced to THE LADY. It should had being something special for the girl, knowing not much more than poverty and famine, to suddenly inter a house so magnificent. At the entrance, paintings here and there are disposed and she’s looking at them with a strange mix of feeling, probably seeing a painting for the first time in her life. Is it fear, anger, amusement, admiration…melancholy that she experience watching them?

What is passing in her mind while waiting, when she past months holding, shaping and taking care of that one dress who could had fed her hole family for years. Is she envious or devoted? Does she thinks of pinching her client with the needle while stitching on her with that ”ho, sorry” thing, or simply trembles at the simple idea that it could happens?

In the anti-chamber, she could observe, while waiting, the valets going: this one, for example, bussy doing the hairs of the other, this other one take care to un-dust the curtains, that one is cleaning his shoes, but no attention given to her, simple seamstress, as they are to serve madame in every single tasks she ask from them, have no time to pay any respect to a simple childish girl.

This girl have to stitch, and fast, just next to the skin… and it’s the only thing she can think of right at the moment. What surrounds her right now is too extravagant for her eyes, to far from her universe to be able to understand it. She wait patiently, while all servants prepare the house before the raise of madame.

Our quest is hungry, since too busy to eat this morning, and suddently her stomack reminds her: woke up at 4, and went right away to her duty on that cold morning, nothing to eat in the house anyway. Chickens didn’t lay yet.

And she’s probably even grateful to have this rare job, and probably just wait to find husband to stop working for others and start working for him… And she knows there are so much more richer people then Madame in this world. Since that seamstress have to be there, it means also that Madame doesn’t have enough servants at her charge. Still, she’s rich enough to made her dress stitch on her, showing by that to her surrounding that she’s not self sufficient, already being an other visual sign of her position in society. She can be the bitch.

Our servant is invited to enter the room, heavy perfume fill the air, mixed with human skin smell in a room that doesn’t breathe enough, too cold outside, to hard to heat. The curtains are still closed, letting just some morning light passing trough. Atmosphere is heavy, air is heavy. There Madame stands with nothing more than her cotton shirt on, her body being visible trough the backlighting, waiting in the middle of the bedroom. They have nothing to say to each other. They are not from the same world. And this hole world apart being holding on only one thread…Money!

Publié dans : History | le 24 mai, 2010 |Pas de Commentaires »

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