Archive for the Bourbon monarchy Category

A Moment for Louis XVI

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Recquiscat in Pace, Sans-culotte, Uncategorized on January 20, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As it is now 5:15 am in the city of Paris, in a few hours there will be an opportunity to either celebrate or mourn depending upon your ideology. Two hundred and eighteen years ago, Louis Auguste de France,better known as Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre was executed on the 21st of January 1793; the maddening crowds who had  gathered to see the only king of France executed, let out “shouts of joy” at 10:30 am.

The King was dead.

I am only an armchair historian, dilettantish at best; but I am romantic, Louis’s tale is tragic, I merely want to honor his death.


Louis XVI

portrait rondel

1787

Philippe-Laurent Roland

1746-1816

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Often remembered as the king who wished to be a locksmith, Marie Antoinette’s star burnt much brighter, her image more glamorous , it is easy for the casual historian to overlook Louis XVI. From the accounts I have read, he was a man of intelligence and devotion to God, his country, and his family. His indecisiveness has been recently attributed to symptoms of clinical depression; as the spouse of a psychologist, I am eager to look into this.

But as I said I am not a historian, for now, I will just present images of the late king.


Louis XVI, King of France

painted porcelain

18th century

Louis XVI

aged 22

b.23rd august 1754

d.21st January 1793

King of France and Navarre 1174-1791

King of the French 1791-1792

painted 1776

Joseph-Siffred Duplessis

1725-1802

Musée national du Chåteau et des Trianons

Versailles

Recquiscat in Pace

As King of the French, the king and his image underwent many humiliations;this engraving from happier times, 1775, was defaced in 1792, the king now known as Louis Capet is seen wearing the phrygian cap of the sans-culotte. It’s an unfortunate image.

source

Ultimately the king and his family endured being separated from one another when the comfort of family was most needed.

Louis XVI at the Tour du Temple

Jean-Francois Garneray

1755-1837

Death of Louis XVI,King of France

English Engraving

1798

If interested, and you are fluent in French, there is a site devoted to the late king.

Musically the memory of the king lives on,the following Funeral March for the Death of the King LouisXVI by Pavel Wranitzky carries the torch for his majesty.

Pavel Wranitzky

1756-1808

Over two centuries ago Louis Capet was having his prayerbook fetched at six o’clock in the morning.

Say a little prayer for the man.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


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Marie Antoinette la Reine Martyre

Posted in 18th century, Basilica of Saint-Denis, Bourbon monarchy, French-American, Jacques Louis David, Kucharski, Marie Antoinette, R.I.P., Vigee Le Brun on October 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Before we begin the frivolities of the weekend, I thought it important to remember that tomorrow, October 16th , at 12:15 p.m. marks the 217th anniversary of this great woman’s murder.

Recquiscat in Pace

Queen Marie Antoinette of France

b. 2nd November 1755

d. 16th October 1793, 12:15 pm

Daughter of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria and  Holy Roman Emperor Franz I. Stephan of Austria

ca. 1786

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

Art Institute, Detroit

(of all places)

There are two anniversaries on the annual calendar that  upon my ritual reading of the events causes my heart to ache. The first being the reading of the Passion , the second being the cruelties inflicted upon Marie Antoinette that October morning 1793. Faith and politics aside, both illustrate man’s ability to disregard humanity , particularly shocking when faced with another who has been reduced to abject wretchedness. My great hope is that I would rise above such base behavior, but even Peter found strength elusive.

I love this image of the Queen by Alexandre Kucharski (ca. 1791).

It expresses a great humanity, unlike so many of the “glamour” shoots which we are most familiar with.

The softness of her coloring, the luminous quality of her skin prompting Vigée Le Brun to comment that the Queen’s skin “so transparent that it allowed no shadow,”.

Source: Antonia Fraser

As much as I may admire the subtle humanity captured by Kucharsky, we have all fallen for her  royal public image.

Be it a formal court painting, inspiring reverence and awe,

or a fashion spread, few have been able to ignore her charms ; save for humorless republicans and godless anarchists.

To our very day, folks who share a love of glamour, romance, and style find inspiration in the Martyr Marie.

My dear friend Patrick Ediger of the design house French American has wittily designed a new fabric due out this winter.

It has been dubbed Queen of Pop, I am particularly attracted to the “chandelier” head dress.

Queen of Pop

French American

Winter 2010

click for detail.

As an aspiring artist I am particularly touched by Vigée Le Brun’s remembrance of an awkward moment before the Queen. After having cancelled a sitting with the Queen due to illness, Le Brun went to apologize the next day ;the Queen graciously cancelled her  own scheduled plans for an impromptu sitting. The Queen’s kindness caused Le Brun to fumble .

” I remember that, in my confusion and my eagerness to make a fitting response to her kind words,I opened my paint-box so excited that I spilled my brushes on the floor. I stooped down to pick them up. “Never mind, never mind,” said the Queen, and for aught I could say, she insisted on picking them all up herself…”. source

Le Brun, a favored and ridiculously prolific court painter, remained true to the memory of Her Majesty. Her allegiance complicated matters when the upstart Napoleon sat upon the republican throne.

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

b. 16th March 1755

d. 30th March 1842

If interested her fascinating memoir is easily downloaded.

In the early hours of October 16th 1793, Marie Antoinette demonstrated her courage and faith in a final letter to her sister-in law, Madame Elizabeth:

“October 16. 4:40 in the morning

I have just been condemned to death, not to a shameful death, that can only be for criminals, but in order to rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to demonstrate the same firmness as he did at the end. I am calm, as people are whose conscience is clear. My deepest regret is at having to abandon our poor children; you know that I only lived on for them and for you, my good and tender sister.”

source: Marie Antoinette, the Journey, Antonia Frazer, pg. 436

Denying the Queen the dignity of Widows Weeds, “Antoinette Capet”was forced to wear a common white dress. The trip to the guillotine was designed to be a trail of humiliation.

The Queen would defy their base intentions.

The hateful David took pleasure in depicting the Queen in her final humiliating moments. Her critics saw imperial Hapsburg haughtiness, justification for their cruel perversions; I see a woman of great breeding, brutally shorn of hair, a sad cap with a few black ribbons of morning, a body and spirit broken, forced to sit in a donkey cart. Willful hatefulness only elicited dignity from this great Queen.

Final sketch by the odious David.

Her breeding and innate kindness apparent even as she approached the blade. Having stepped upon her executioner’s foot, she instinctively apologized, ” I did not do it on purpose”.

For all of her perceived  “sins” that is perhaps a fitting response.

True to the Catholic faith , she chided the false priest Abbé Girard when he suggested she gather her courage.

This great Queen , daughter of the great Empress Maria Theresia did not require this traitor’s words of encouragement.

“Courage! The moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.”

Well put dear Queen.

Much of her reputation has been restored, aside from the tiresome”cake” references, many folks hold a tender place in their hearts for this unfortunate woman.

Her final resting spot, the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

source

So tomorrow, no matter what your time zone, a t 12:15 pm give a “shout-out ” to dear Marie Antoinette.

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!


Have a great weekend.

Respectfully submitted,

BabylonBaroque

image sources

The Sun King By Way of Cathay;the chinoiserie tapestries of Beauvais

Posted in 17th century, Beauvais tapestries, Bourbon monarchy, Chinoiserie, Francois Boucher, Jean Berain, Louis XIV, peacocks on September 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My friend Eleanor Schapa recently posted a commemoration of the Sun King’s birthday (Sept 5th) on her Face Book page; I am ashamed to say I had forgotten.

I will attempt to make amends.

(Young Louis in possibly the gayest costume ever!)

Louis XIV , aged 14, in the role of Apollo, the Celestial Sovereign.

A role young Louis would cultivate throughout his lifetime.

In celebrating the Sun King’s birth, my friend Eleanor, a maven of the decorative arts, listed many of Louis’s attributes. Amongst the many contributions she made mention of the Gobelins tapestries, in particular the Chinoiserie series. Ordinarily Eleanor and I are in complete agreement, but she found them to be unattractive.

I felt a need to re-examine them.

I am NOT a maven concerning anything frankly. I have a broad range of interest and have been familiar with “The Emperor of China” series for some time. From my brief research they seemed to have been of Beauvais manufacture, Gobelins being solely royal production. I’m guessing they were part of Louis frenzied effort to sell the Franco “brand”.

I must say, I still find them exciting and quite beautiful, sorry Eleanor.

“Emperor Sailing”

from the “The Story of the Emperor of China”

after design by Guy-Louis Vernansel

1648-1279

wool, silk, gilt

Art Institute of Chicago

I have always admired the decidedly Western dragons, indifferent to Chinese conventions.

Another example from the “Historie du Roi de Chine “series, further explores the mystery of Cathay.

le Astronomes

from “il historie du roi de Chine”

after designs by Jean -Baptiste Belin de Fontenay

1653-1715

Manufactured by Beauvais 18th cent.

silk

How the hell do you not love that peacock?

Again that very Western dragon, like Brighton Pavilion.

Of course you can’t speak of Louis’s patronage without mention of the great Jean Bérain; his seemingly  inexhaustible imagination created some of the most enchanting grotesquerie ever.

Devotion to  Pan

design by Jean Bérain the Elder

1638-1711

Louis XIV achieved his goal in creating a seemingly eternal desire for French goods.

This tapestry, ca. 1770, is as desirable as it was in the century in which it was designed, as in the century when it was manufactured (1770), and today.

Fashion that is truly timeless.

“Summer”

from the “Portieries of the Gods”

(love that name, as if Olympus had a private decorator)

after designs by Claude Audran le Jeun

1658-1734

ca. 1770 Gobelins

silk

Of course my friend Eleanor had a point, when it comes to Chinoiserie; at it’s most graceful, few could compete with Boucher.

first in the series (of six)

Le Tenture Chinois

(Chinois Wall Hangings)

after designs by Francois Boucher

1703-1770

Louis XV’s Beauvais , 1758

wool,silk

All in all, I think Louis XIV’s take on Chinoiserie is typical of most of the Baroque under his direction. It all appears to be reflect his own splendor, the Chinois series merely a way for Louis to play act the role of an Absolute Mandarin.

Louis did  narcissism well.

Happy Birthday your Majesty!

b. September 5th 1638

d. September 1st 1715

Dieu Sauve le Roi,

Dieu Sauve le Roi,

Dieu Sauve le Roi!


Recquiscat in Pace Princesse de Lamballe

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Marie Antoinette, Princesse de Lamballe, Sans-culotte on September 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

How the hell I let the 3rd pass without honoring Marie Antoinette’s greatest friend, I haven’t a clue.

But today is that great lady’s birthday, so she must be honored, happy 218th birthday sweet Princesse.

On September 3rd 1792 Princesse de Lamballe was brutally murdered and mutilated by roving mobs of madmen, primarily the sans culottes, hungry for “liberty” and blood.  Please refer to sidebar for more info on the Sans Culottes.

Princess Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy -Carignan, Princess of Lamballe

b. September 8th 1749

d. September 3rd 1792

Her end, part of a wave of horror known as the September Massacres, was a violent bloody affair. God knows her final thoughts , loyal to the end to her great friends, Marie and Louis,  she was separated from Marie earlier in “92. A pity for both women to have lost the companionship of one another when it was needed most urgently.

The evil crowds blaspheming her in name and ultimately in body , placed her head upon a pike. A grisly gift they thought fit for a Divine Sovereign.

Recquiscat in Pace dear Princesse.

It is also appropriate to remember the others martyred defending the Faith : the 24 True priests, massacred on route to the prison/Abbe of Saint Germain, the  150 other priests brutally murdered in a Carmelite sanctuary, the brave-hearted Swiss Guard, the average common Catholic, loyal to his King and his God.

Pax Vobiscum

Incroyables and Merveilleuses, Fashion’s Royalist Rebels

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Directoire, Fashion-art, Incroyables and Merveleilleuses, Patrick Mc Donald, SteamPunk on August 10, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Always eager to explore the excesses of fashion and monarchy, my thoughts of late have been on that fleeting moment of time when the Merveiilleuse flirted with the Incroyable. As all youth must, the fashion forward of the Directoire were compelled to assert their individuality by embracing allegience to the ancien régime. The Children of the Revolution were Royalists, at least concerning fashion.

After the fall of the dreaded Robespierre, the Reign of Terror a recent memory, the parties began. The most pervesely beautiful party theme being the Bal à la Victime, the horrors of the guillotine being refashioned to suit coiffure and sartorial splendor.

Boys in cropped hair,( replicating shorn locks which would have allowed the blade easier access )and saucy girls in gauzy dresses trussed with ribbons( as those unfortunates that had faced the block) spent their evenings dancing on recently mopped blood.

The Bal was an exclusive affair , attendance was only allowed to those who had lost a relative to the Terror.

A louche form of therapy perhaps.

Combining a fascination with anglaise fashion, aristocratic anachronism, and a romantic notion of Classical garb à la Grecque, the result was fantastic. Exaggerated  lapels, indecently tight trousers, gauzy dresses alluding to Athenian nudity ( the maillot, a flesh coloured body stocking enhanced this illusion), comical eyewear, and the most inventive bonnets, the forms both fascinated and incited ridicule.

The Eternal Generational Divide

“New” fashion vs. “Old”

fashion plate by Chataignier, 1797

Les Incroyables 1795

Green seems to have been a particular popular color.

The Grecian Ideal always a popular theme as the following images illustrate.

I admire how this Directoire Darling combined a Robespierre bob with Grecian draping. Love the illusion to bacchic leopard, smart touch.

Has there been a fashion moment like this since? The Aeshetic affectations of Wilde and Beardsley seem middle class next to this posturing.

Perhaps the horror of Robespierre and his crew had one positive (certainly charming and inventive)result.

Maxilmillen Robespierre

b. 6 May 1758

d. 28 July 1794

(not soon enough)

In the spirit of dandies, I was thinking of our own fashion forward. the Steam Punks are of course a delightful bunch, like the Merveilleus looking to the past to refashion their present presence.

Hot young fellow, any self respecting Incroyable would have envied his goggles.

Adore the macabre beauty of this corset, the Merveilleus blood-ribbon seems frivolous in comparison.

Alexander McQueen was able to tap into excess with tremendous grace and beauty,

The white pantaloons remind me of the maillot, suggestive yet holding back.

Of course no conversation concerning dandies and sartorial excess is complete without the ever marvelous Mr. Patrick McDonald. This gentleman truly carries the torch, carry on Mr. McDonald.

Have a Merveilleus day,

sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Bastille Day, a dark cloud overhead.

Posted in 18th century, Bastille Day, Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette on July 13, 2010 by babylonbaroque

France may celebrate this day, the anniversary of the storming of  the Bastille, July 14th 1789; but for this particular Monarchist smug and snug in the States, it is a dark day.

I can only imagine the anxiety Louis felt when he realized that the unthinkable had begun, did he try to hide the reality from the Queen, how long did they cling to denial. I read the sad, sad tale over and over, always hoping it will end differently. Hoping that their get-away carriage will at last bring them to safety, but like Violetta in La Traviata, there is never a happy ending.

In that spirit I put together this little daub, a watercolor play on the famous portrait of the Queen by Le Brun, I pretentiously titled it “The Death of Monarchy”.

don’t snicker when you see the Le Brun.

Maria Antoinette a la Rose (aged 28)

b. November 2nd 1755

d. October 16th 1793

12:15 p.m.

painted by  Louise Elizabeth Vigee le Brun, a loyal friend to the Queen

I can only view this day as a day of foreboding , the scandalous images that surrounded the Queen, the humiliation the King had to endure, this day was the beginning of the Terror.

I prefer to remember them like this :

Louis XVI

b. August 23rd 1754

d. January 21st 1793

by Antoine Francois Callet

Soon enough poor Louis would meet his fate in ’93.

and the traitorous David would make one last sketch of the blessed Queen, later that year.

Happy Bastille Day

monument to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Saint Denis Basilica