Thursday, April 29, 2010

Name that Gainsborough

You heard me! Can anyone identify this snippet of a famous painting?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sylph Now on Amazon

Ta-da! Look what has made its way to and qualifies for Super Saver Shipping! It's the most fabulous edition of The Syph. Order yours today and it should arrive just in time for our first salon in the The Sylph Group Read. Haven't signed up yet? Why not! You can do that here, or wander in at any time! The audiobook will hopefully be out soon but I can't decide between readers; either Dame Judi Dench or Dame Edna, decisions, decisions!*
In other Sylph Group Read news check out Girlebooks's latest blog post on The Sylph, which contains a sneak preview! The group read even made it into the Austen Tattler.

I can't tell you how excited I am for the impending salons. It's not often I have someone to discuss my current read with so, as always, I am looking forward to the gossip.
The Sylph is now available in both print and ebook format so why don't you grab your copy today!

*Heather wishes

More Bedding

Not quite as fabulous as the previous sets I was showing off but I had to display this bedding from Target because it looks like a place my blog would sleep! Blue and brown brocade, if only it was blue and buff it would be perfect. But it's close enough for me to like it and tres affordable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Festooning the Bust of Hymen

It would seem pretty sacrilegious if young virgins of English nobility really decorated the bust of the god of marriage before their marriages. The depiction of them doing so, however, was a popular theme in portraiture. Not only was it a Romantic notion but also a nod toward the Classical.

Hymen or Hymenaios was usually depicted as wearing flower garlands, which may of had something to do with the ritual of decorating his term to gain his favors. Eighteenth century ladies would be depicted in such form to commemorate their marriage. When a term of Hymen was not to be had women, such as Lady Harrington, would pay tribute in their marriage commemorations by being portrayed with a garland. Lady Keppel's portrayal is probably the most well-known of these depictions. She was a lady of Queen Charlotte's and is portrayed in the gown she wore at the coronation, or perhaps wedding (I can't remember specifically!). The results are always a stunning result of motion and color displaying the sitters at their best, to show the triumph of the future bridegroom in snagging such a great catch!

Joshua Reynolds, Lady Elizabeth Keppel, 1761

Joshua Reynolds, Ladies Adorning a Term of Hymen, 1773

Benjamin West, Lady Beauchamp-Proctor, 1778

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out of the Salon

I have joined Lauren in the lovely city of Boston and will return tomorrow. One can only hope I will run into Mr. Benjamin Franklin outside the Union Oyster House as I have in the past. Watch on twitter for any updates that may be of interest! Also, leave your opinions on this week's Yay or Nay?

Yay or Nay? Robertine Tourteau

Normally pink and green are a lovely color combination especially in Spring. However our judges deemed Mary Wilkes play with those colors totally wrong and she was met with a Nay. Better luck next time, Mary! To revive us from the overdone effort of Miss Wilkes, let's now look at some casual-wear. For, comfort doesn't mean sacrificing fashion...or does it?

Jacques-Louis David paints, Robertine Tourteau (1790) in her collared-fichu gown. Yay or Nay?


Friday, April 23, 2010

A Very Special Announcement

I am extremely excited to announce the Librifiles edition of The Sylph is now available to order. This is the same edition as the Girlebooks ebook now available to download for free, but in print form for those who enjoy a good old fashioned book. I had a wonderful experience working together with the fabulous Laura of Girlebooks to put this out and was overwhelmingly flattered when she suggested distributing a print version with a introduction by myself. You can immediately begin to order The Sylph on now and for those addicts like myself, the book will soon be available to purchase there as well.

For those who are interested, especially participants in The Sylph Group Read next month this is great opportunity to get your hands on a print copy of the book that also supports humble bloggers, and more importantly, independent publishers.

Don't forget to use discount code 95Y8NF33 at checkout with CreatesSpace to get 20% off!

A Note About the Cover
Thomas Gainsborough, Elizabeth Linley (later Sheridan), ca. 1775
The portrait of Elizabeth Linley was not only selected for the beauty of both the sitter and the painting but for Elizabeth's many similarities with the main character of The Sylph, Julia. In the many images Gainsborough painted of Elizabeth, she is portrayed with her curly locks loose and a natural glow. In this portrayal of the singer, she is made up with the high hair and makeup of the latest fashions and therefore, looks slightly out of her element, and almost uncomfortable. The process of this primping process is described in detail in the book from the perspective of a girl who had lived her life in the country, unused to the extreme fashions and unable to cope with them. Julia's similar discomforts with a rake husband, a malicious high society, and leaving a loving family match those of Elizabeth Linley Sheridan's, making her portrait an appropriate selection for the book's cover.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mitchell and Webb Meet Pride and Prejudice

...And this is the result:

I LOVE That Mitchell and Webb Look which you can luckily catch in the colonies, Wednesday nights on BBC America. Excuse me while I conga.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gainsborough Ink

I see a lot of awful tattoos, or perhaps tattoos in awful places. But then you see some amazing tattoos where you have to give credit to the artist's ability and the owner's fine taste.

I really love the rare spectacle of when someone decides they love a painting so much that they have it recreated in the form of a tattoo. I've seen Botticelli tats, Warhol tats, Kahlo tats, lots of Dalis but I want some Gainsborough tats! Sadly, I think Mr. Gainsborough does not appeal to the normal tattooed crowd. I've looked and the only 18th century-related tattoos I could find were related to Marie Antoinette, and sadly not her portrait. This young lady got this beautiful sleeve done, inspired by Marie Antoinette, but sadly once again, not a portrait.

So I am putting a call out there: who has an 18th century-inspired tattoo? I would love to see some pictures if there is anyone who happens to have this rarity in the tattoo world. Let us see!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Stroll Through the Gardens

The trees are budding, the snows and deluges are over and I am looking forward to the joys of spring. Although never gifted with a green thumb, I still have an appreciation for horticulture. Those in the 18th century were quite fond of it as well, and we can thank them for some of the most wonderful landscaping that is still in existence today. The love and pride of owning one of these botanical wonderlands would cause many people to employ artists to paint these sources of joys. It was also the perfect backdrop to a portrait: showing you to both be Enlightened and rich.

Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews, 1750

John Wootton, The Beauchamp-Proctor Family and Friends at Langley Park, Norfolk, 1749

Peter Tillemans, Portrait of Master Edward and Miss Mary Macro, the children of Revd Dr Cox Macro, circa 1730

Angelica Kauffmann, Anna Maria Jenkins; Thomas Jenkins, 1790

Jacob-Philippe Hackert, The English Garden of Caserta (detail), 1792

Arthur Devis, Sir George and Lady Strickland in the Park in Boynton Hall, 1751

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sylph Group Read Rundown

For those eagerly anticipating our first ever, and long-awaited group read, let me lay out just how I am going to go about conducting it. You'll have to bear with me; I, being a novice unlike other seasoned book group leaders like Laurel Anne at AustenProse, might stumble through some of this new terrain.

The Layout
We will have two salons or discussion sessions each week where we will meet here on the blog to discuss the designated chapters (or letters in The Sylph's case). I will set up a post with an overview of what happened and then some thoughts about what we read. I will pose some opinion questions, but you may have something to else say instead of answering them.

Just as in 18th century salons where hot topics were discussed and gossiped about, I hope everyone won't be too shy to contribute a comment or two, even if it's as simple as "I thought this was interesting" or "That, Lady Ann, what a fox!" A good discussion is our goal, because it's always fun to gush over books together!

For those who have read ahead, remember not to ruin the story for others. Please only discuss what has happened up until that point in the plot. So for example, if we are on Letter 10, please don't go on about how the actions in that chapter effect something in Letter 23. We can wait until Letter 23 to chat about that together!

Most importantly, have fun! You're not getting a grade for this group discussion so get cozy; if you think a character is being a dick, well then say it! If you notice a correlation between the book and Evalina, well then say that too! The more varied minds there are the more fun gossiping we will have.

I set up the group read so that we will spend the month of May reading The Sylph. It will be about 10 pages a day, and two salons a week (Mondays and Thursdays). The salon schedule is as follows:

  • May 3, Letters 1-8
  • May 6, Letter 9
  • May 10, Letters 10-14
  • May 14, Letters 15-23
  • May 17, Letters 24-30
  • May 20, Letters 31-35
  • May 24, Letters 36-45
  • May 27, Letters 46-53
  • May 31, Letters 54-61

I hope everyone is excited as I am! The Sylph is packed with scandalous stories incorporated from Georgiana's own life and marriage in the ton. I think you will all be as shocked and intrigued with the story as I was!

Those who will be attending:

Girlebooks The Sylph

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yay or Nay? Mary Wilkes

This group surprises me! I thought you would condemn the wild masquerade dress of Franz Isaak von Chasot but I forget that most of you are the untamed sort who would be found at the masquerade with Monsieur von Chasot. Let's turn our attention toward some daywear.

Ignore Mr. Wilkes, he doesn't concern us. Johan Zoffany paints Miss Wilkes (1782) in her pink and green polonaise gown. Yay or Nay?

[National Portrait Gallery]

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Sylph Group Read

Crack open the champagne everyone! Laura from GirlEbooks and I have finally finished editing The Sylph. You know what that means, next month we can begin our group read of the book!

The e-books is up now on Girlebooks, so everyone can have easy access to Georgiana's novel. I'll have more details on how we'll go about conducting our book group later. Just plan on clearing your reading schedule for May!

If you are more of a traditionalist you can get a copy of the book on Amazon for about $12 or (a better option) you can wait for Girlebooks' sister site, Librifiles to release a print version with a foreword by yours truly. I will keep you updated as to when that will come out as well.

Keep coming back for more details on the Group Read and clear your schedule for The Sylph in May! So who is in?


"Gaming and liquor have debauched more women than all the solicitations of the whole race of man."

-Colonel George Hanger

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

For Your Boudoir

I'm sorry. Once again I found something that might make your wallets a tad bit lighter. I know mine is. In my quest for some new fabulous sheets I came across Wake Up Frankie. As the logo says, it is "fashion for your room" and is just full of scrumptious bed sets and room accessories. These of course, include many modern rococo sets that are as fun as they are chic. I simply can't decide which one I like more. As Lauren said, "Why do I only have one bed!"

He Baroque My Heart

Let Them Eat Cake

Paris Nights

Emma Goes To Prom

And if you aren't due for new bedding there is always fun home accessories!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Part of the Ship that Launched Paul Revere Found is reporting that a British warship was found off of Cape Cod this week. If that wasn't impressive enough this ship happens to be quite famous. The ship remains are being identified as the HMS Somerset III which is the same warship that Paul Revere slipped past when he had his famous midnight ride. Since the ship was built in 1745 and went down in 1778 I'm surprised there is actually anything left to it. Well, I guess you could say British ships were built to last.

British Warship Paul Revere Eluded Resurfaces

18th Century British Warship Resurfaces on a Beach in Provincetown

Monday, April 12, 2010

18th Century Terminology: Cicisbeo

(chi-chez-bay-o) pl: cicisbei

A married lady's gallant or lover who would attend her in public. The practice of having a cicisbeo was socially acceptable and allowed by a husband, although some cicisbei were also lovers, whether the husband knew or not.

Lady D- was seen in Ranelagh Gardens last night with her new cicisbeo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yay or Nay? Franz Isaak von Chasot

There was a small split in the judging last week, but Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon came out on top! All her glitz and glam makes me want to go even glitzier and glamier! Let's check out some menswear that will turn some heads at the Pantheon.

Antoine Pesne paints Franz Isaak von Chasot in his masquerade garb in which he didn't spare any expense on all the frills. Yay or Nay?

[Private Collection]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: The Hell-Fire Clubs

It is no secret that the 18th century was a time of hedonism, scandal, and all-around naughtiness, so it should come as no surprise that social clubs were formed with the objective of specifically doing those things. Gentlemens clubs were a common retreat for the nobleman. But some noblemen found that the drinking, gambling, and other debaucheries offered were not quite enough to satisfy their their need for corruption. Those rakes would become part of secret societies which we now like to call Hell-Fire Clubs. Because of the clubs being secret we know very little of them and it is hard to differentiate between what is fact and what is fiction. That is where Evelyn Lord's new book, The Hellfire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies comes in handy. In this new exploration of the subject, Lord uncovers the few clues left behind and uncovers the truth behind these notorious clubs.

Beginning with the infamous Lord Rochester's antics (although not directly related to a club), Lord takes her readers from the late 17th century into the early 19th, discussing any organized group which set out out to blaspheme against God or society. This begins with the street gang, The Mohocks, who terrorized London, moves into the Hell-Fire clubs and the legendary Medmenham Friars, and ends with the lasting clubs' influence. The clubs differ in their antics, ranging from street brawls, to blaspheming, to visits from prostitutes but they all seem to share a common trait in keeping most of these antics secret.

What I had read about the clubs in the past sounded like pure gossip: orgies, violence, and other such lascivious activities. In the introduction Lord is forward in her aim to demythologize the hell-fire clubs and expose what is legend and what is truth. That is exactly what she does. This could prove to be disappointing for those expecting gruesome details of what we have once thought these clubs to be. You always want to hear shocking details of the depravities done behind closed doors, and those still exist, just not to the extent we once thought they did.

The Hell-Fire Clubs is another book I zoomed through; it was difficult to put down! Lord's research was extensive and her writing was compelling. My only criticism was that there was a chapter that could have been omitted which had mini-biographies of notable members of The Friars of Medmenham. Since they had already been introduced to readers the chapter came off as filler, which I think is unnecessary. Otherwise, the book is packed with great facts and stories of these nefarious men and their social gatherings. The Hell-Fire Clubs is great book for those interested in the private lives of noblemen, fans of Men Behaving Badly, and of course, the Hellfire clubs.

The Hellfire Clubs: Sex, Satanism and Secret Societies is out now in both paperback and hardcover editions.


"We are all going to Heaven, and Vandyke is of the company."

-Thomas Gainsborough

Monday, April 5, 2010

How Many Mooses did the Duke of Richmond Have?

Anyone lucky enough to have been to the Hunterian Museum may have come across George Stubb's painting of a moose entitled, The Duke of Richmond’s First Bull Moose. Which begs the question: just how many mooses (moose? meese?) did Charlie have? Was he just being pompous and assuming he'd be acquiring more with a painting title like that?

Like any exotic animal from far-away lands, moose were a highly-prized object for the English nobleman's menagerie. When General Guy Carlton sent the Duke of Richmond a moose from Canada the anatomist, William Hunter called on the artist George Stubbs for a favor. Hunter's main interest was in humans but he seemed to have some natural scientific curiosity with the moose and its relationship to the elk indigenous to the British Isles. He commissioned Stubbs to paint Richmond's new moose for study. Stubbs included mature moose antlers in the painting since Richmond's did not have them. The painting goes to show just how much wasn't known about moose. Stubbs painted it in a rocky craggy mountain landscape, not knowing the specific habitat.

Three years later Hunter got word that a second moose was now in Richmond's possession. This time he grabbed some friends and his painting and went to see this second bull moose in person. Comparing the two moose caused him to make a second commission with Stubbs, a drawing entitled The Duke of Richmond’s Second Bull Moose.

One moose sounds to me like it would be enough! Two moose is a tad selfish. I can't tell you if Richmond took any more antlered wards in but I have a feeling he may have stopped at two (males, at least), just because his friend Hunter would have come along, dragging Stubbs behind, for yet another photo op with the new moose in town.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Yay or Nay? Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon

This crowd is definitely on a generous streak. The costume-y aspects of Giovanna Baccelli's ballet ensemble did not repel and she was awarded with a Yay. Since today is a holiday with a history of fabulous headgear I knew I needed to put an outfit with a corresponding hat before the panel. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Duchess of Chartres:

Charles Lepeintre paints Louise Marie Adélaïde de Bourbon in her Easter Bonnet with all the frills upon it. Yay or Nay?


Friday, April 2, 2010

The Spirit of Spring

How festive! Etsy makes it possible to find rococo goodies for just about any holiday. I found this fun Marie Antoinette Easter gift tag from Wendy Paula Patterson on her shop, Mulberry Muse. I can't imagine giving away a Giclee gift tag on any old Easter gift though! You could frame this up in a shadow box frame for a perfect Easter decoration that displays your fabulous taste in the best of centuries. Check out Wendy's other fabulous creations here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

While perusing Amazon for a copy of Fanny Hill, I was overwhelmed by the many editions of this book. I am not sure why I should be so shocked, the brazen novel was published in 1749, allowing for many versions to be released over the centuries. But what is it about this book where we are still interesting in reading it here in the 21st century? Was it great literature? Nope, not really. It was smut, written by John Cleland in an attempt to escape debtor's prison.

Originally published as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, the novel would come to be known by the name of its main character which sounds strangely enough like a naughty lady-bit. Fanny is an orphan teenager who moves to London and takes lodgings with a madam who wastes no time transforming the young girl into a prostitute. But instead of this being the same moralistic story as Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, Fanny enjoy her various sexual exploits which, like our modern pornos, are more plentiful than the plot line is complicated. Yes, Cleland was not out to open the eyes of the public to the plights of poor women; he was in the entertainment business.

John Cleland was an educated individual who worked for the Bombay company. It was in India that he allegedly began penning the manuscripts which would become, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The tale was an erotic novel and Cleland probably wrote it only because he knew: sex sells, and he needed some cash. The book was published in two volumes and it wasn't until a year after its publication that word got around to the wrong ears about the intimate details it divulged. Censorship laws may have been repelled, but for whatever reason Cleland's book didn't fit into this category and he was put on trial for obscenity. He saved himself by laying no claim to the book, stating he just happened upon the manuscript and embellished it. That didn't stop it from being published under the title Fanny Hill with some edits to the most scandalous parts. Rumor has it, the book was contained even more scandalous scenes that are now lost to us. For the next couple of centuries the book would be sold on the black market and banned from just about everywhere. The book wasn't even published in the United States until the 1970s!

Now, the problem is quite opposite. There are so many editions of the book, I can't even decide which to choose! I'm torn between these two (below), since they're both from indie publishers. I'm leaning toward the second one but worried it's from too late an edition. Oh dilemmas.

Check out some of the covers from some of the many editions. I was surprised by the amount with 19th century paintings and there are a plethora of different and creative covers which I found quite interesting.