Monday, August 30, 2010

A Pouf for Fall 2010?

While flipping through the September issue of Glamour I was reading the delightful proclamation that when it comes to hair this season, bigger is better.  Not 1980's bigger, either; we're talking 1780's! So get out your teasing combs, not to mention your scented pomade, powders, and horsehair bundles (18th century bumpits) because this could be the return of the pouf (not to be confused with the poof sported by Lady Snookie).

Sorry boys, no mention of any macaroni hair trends yet, but I'll be the first to let you know when that vogue reoccurs!  Fashion week is closely approaching after all...

Oscar de la Renta
Tracy Reese


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yay or Nay? Maria Pilar

Last week we had our first edition of hat Yay or Nays.  The panel was torn!  But in the end Marie Dauncey and her poodle hair were rewarded with a Yay.  Although the curly powdered hair was very much in style, Marie's was very curiously styled for her portrait. I suppose it was all about the hat when she considered her outfit!  Now let's journey to Spain for our next hat selection

Vicente López paints the Duquessa de Nájera (1795) as she adds a hint of bold color to the otherwise subtle clothing pallet via her hat.  Yay or Nay?


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Young Men Be Warned

Carrington Bowles, The Man-Trap, 1780
Don't be deceived, she has a trick up her sleeve!  Carrington Bowles' 1780 satirical print could have its own theme song, for it serves as a warning to young men out there to be wary of one of the most feared things to an 18th century gentleman: women.  You may chuckle, but "man-traps" were a genuine concern, especially because women were considered to be vamps whose voracious sexual appetite couldn't be satisfied.  Many satirical prints show an amorous woman asking their exhausted lover for more sex. Oh the horror!

Here we have the culprit, not in the act, but in her natural form: sitting in high fashion on her couch.  She looks quite virginal in white, and her fair skin further serves to induce you to believe in her innocence.  But if you are only to look behind her and see her daily income of love letters you could just save yourself from a dangerous maneatertrap!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

His Highness Continues his Reign

Disciples, this is truly the best one yet!!  His highness has truly outdone himself and gone Dutch for his latest performance.  If you aren't a fan after this than you just simply cannot be entertained for words cannot express how glorious that was!

Now, if you are like me and simply cannot get enough, I found that you can vote here for Prince Poppycock at the designated times.  Remember more votes means more Poppycock!


"The joy would be so great, I mean to keep you in bed for a week at least when we marry."
-Princess Amelia to her lover Sir Charles FitzRoy, 21 years her senior

Monday, August 23, 2010

Upcoming Exhibition: Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman

Art, fashion, and scandalous ladies; does it get any better than that? 

On 18 September The Cincinnati Art Museum will be unveiling its new exhibition, Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman, a fun romp through the beautifully painted women who sat for Gainsborough as put together by curator Benedict Luca.  Presiding as hostess would be the Cincinnati Art Museum's own Ann Ford (Mrs. Thickness) whom has just undergone a thorough cleaning.  Joining her will be the iconic Grace Dalyrymple Elliott, Viscountess Ligonier, Maria Fitzherbert, and Elizabeth Sheridan, among others.  Together these fabulous women rendered by Gainsborough  not only represent feisty females of the time but also an era of women taking possession of their own image.  The exhibition will "ask us to look anew at the formal specifics that made his portraits so important to ambitious women and their self-definition in the celebrity culture of the period."

It is only appropriate that period gowns will also be featured alongside the paintings; Gainsborough had a love of portraying couture unlike his rival, Joshua Reynolds, who preferred his female sitters in classical drapery.  Not only will the exhibition bring together an amazing collection of portraits but also some fabulous examples of fashion from the same period.  Visitors will be plunged headfirst into a the glamor of 18th century aristocratic life.

Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman will run at the Cincinnati Museum of Art from 18 September to 2 January and will then move to San Diego Museum of Art from 29 January to 1 May.  It promises to be a show not to be missed! Will you be attending?

Read more about the curator's journey through piecing together the exhibition together here announces Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yay or Nay? Mrs Marie Dauncey

Please excuse this very late edition or our normally scheduled fashion critique.  My recent travels have prevented posting so I have a bit of blogger's guilt which I need to relieve in an immediate Yay or Nay (not to mention, I cannot bear another day without snappy comments).  When we last left off Maria Amalia Christina was impressing everyone with her fancy frock and earned herself a Yay.  Now for something a little different; let's look at headgear.

James Northcote paints Marie Dauncey (1789) in her towering mauve hat.  Yay or Nay?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Out of the Salon: Gossip on the Beach

Pray excuse our absence, but Lauren and I are taking our gossip show on the road.  The toils of court gossip have taken their tolls so we're loading up a glamorous carriage and headed to the coast for some much needed R&R (Ruffles and Raspberry Daiquiris).  Unfortunately that means you must gossip without us!  If we're lucky, a side-trip to Williamsburg could be in order so stay tuned on twitter for any such luck.  How we will miss you; but the coast calls!

See you next week!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tart of the Week: Peg Plunkett

In 1727 Margaret Plunkett was born in County Westmeath, Ireland.  She would be destined to lead the hard-knock life that many women of the lower classes were forced to struggle for survival in.  However, Peg wasn't afraid to take down a few people in the process.  Her mother died when Peg was young and her father left his children in the care of the sadistic eldest brother who constantly beating Peg and her sisters with a whip.  The abuse was so bad Peg once had to cut the sleeves of her dress because of her swollen arms.  In further acts of cruelty her brother denied two suitors who asked Peg to marry them, forcing her to be kept prisoner in the household.  Peg could only take so much abuse and ran away to Dublin as an escape.

Once in Dublin, Peg quickly took up with a gentleman who promptly got her pregnant.  Peg, however, found the situation quite freeing because she managed to get a home out of it.  But when Peg tragically lost her child, the man and house followed suit.  When the next man that came into Peg's life offered her money for her company, Peg realized that this would be the new lifestyle she would take in order to remain out of the clutches of her abusive brother.  Peg fell in love with her social life in the bustling Georgian city, there was always someone to see or something to do with the endless stream of concerts and balls.  Of course all these things cost a pretty penny.

Peg was forced to give up the temptations of the city when she became the kept mistress of a Mr  Leeson.  She took his last name played wife while all the while rejecting his formal proposals of marriage.  The relationship dissolved when Mr Leeson realized Peg was screwing around on him, and she was kicked to the curb, only to be picked up by a Mr. Lawless whom Peg flung herself into a dramatic relationship with.  You know those couples who you can't stand because they are constantly suspicious and jealous of the attention the other receives from others?  That was the relationship Peg had with Mr Lawless.  The two would fly at each other every time he looked at a pretty lady or when a handsome gent winked at her.  One time when Peg caught him drinking champagne with some floozy she grabbed the decanter and was about to smash it into the tart's face had she not been stopped.  The two also got violent with each other until the relationship ultimately ended, leaving Peg heartbroken.

Peg herself was quite scrappy, and being a true bad-girl, never afraid of a fight.  When an actress/courtesan spread venomous gossip about her, Peg waited outside after the actress' play got out to just hurl insults at her.  When a famous violinist requested no women of the demi-monde (fallen women) be at his performance Peg purposely went to the next show and was seen being physically escorted out fighting all the way.  When the bouncer got a little too pushy in the process of getting her out, Peg ran to the authorities who arrested the celebrated musician.  Another time the street gang, the Mohawks broke into Peg's house and she fought them tooth and nail, unfortunately at the loss of her daughter and the child she was carrying.

Peg jumped back and forth between poverty and luxury.  Toward the end of her life she ran a brothel and when finding herself extremely broke, she wrote her memoirs in order to put money back in her pockets.  Despite the rough and tumble life, Peg managed to survive to the age of 70, dying in 1797.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Georgian Holidays Through Satire

Sorry everyone, I have vacations on my mind, so that will be projected onto the blog.  Today let us take a journey through the satirical Georgian holiday, there is still a thing or two we can learn.

James Gillray, Middlesex Election, 1804
 Be prepared for bad traffic...

Thomas Rowlandson, Family on a Journey Laying the Dust, 1800 worst-case scenarios you will have to resort to ducking behind a bush or carriage when nature calls.

Thomas Rowlandson, Portsmouth Point, 1811
Or if you are in the position of trusting your luggage to others, pack accordingly, loosing luggage is never fun.

Carington Bowles, Two Bloods of Humour..., 1771
 Remember, just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you should get too out of control, just a simple out of control should be enough.

George Cruikshank, Royal Embarkment, 1819
 Be sure to be conscious of any skin slip-ups when swimming, the beaches are usually crowded and you never know who is around.

Anon., Mlle des Faveurs a la Promenade a Londres, 1775
Please dress appropriately on hikes and nature walks.

Thomas Rowlandson, Exhibition Room, Somerset House, 1808
Try to add a little culture into your trip, visit a local museum.

James Gillray, Monster Crawls at a New Coalition Feast, 1787
Sample the local fair, don't be afraid to over-indulge.

James Gillray, The Pursuit of Knowledge,  1799
Last but not least, have a great time but be safe doing it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bounce to Fop: Stop Being a Bitch

Did you know Alexander Pope's dog was just as poetic as his owner?  It's true!  Pope's dog, Bounce once wrote a poem dedicated to Henrietta Howard's dog, Fop.  Bounce was very critical of Fop's haughty attitude:
We Country Dogs love nobler sport,
And scorn the pranks of Dogs at Court.
Fye, naughty Fop! where  e'er you come
To fart and piss about the room,
To lay your head in every lap,
And, when they think not of you - snap!
I just can't get over how similar Bounce's writing style is to Pope's!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Fertility Expert of the Georgian Age

Does thought of a Georgian gynecologist make you shudder a little and instinctively cover your nether-regions?  There is good reason for that.  But rather than telling horror stories, I have a triumphal tale today.

The year 1776 saw the first successful attempt at artificial insemination.  A humble draper, born with a deformed urethra and penis, and his wife was having difficulty in conceiving a child.  The couple brought the issue to the esteemed Dr. John Hunter whose advice was to use a warm syringe to inject the husband's semen into his wife's uterus.  Success!  Modern science helped the happy couple become parents.

But like so many scientific topics that tend to be controversial due to moral and religious feelings, Dr Hunter didn't reveal the success of the procedure; in fact he hid it.  It wasn't until after Dr Hunter's death that the successful artificial insemination was revealed.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yay or Nay? Maria Amalia Christina

Last week we put the ghost of Louise Élisabeth up to bat and her afterlife taste in fashion earned her a Yay.  I hope all of my posthumous portrayals have me in Dior.  This week we're hitting the Polish runways, but will we like what we see?

Louis de Silvestre paints Maria Amalia Christina (1737) in her jupeczka, a fur lined gown, and cocked hat.  Yay or Nay?


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

His Highness Prevails

Once again, I'm not up to date on America's Got Talent, so it was all too late when I realized I missed my favourite fop's performance.  But luckily we live in an age where if you miss something on television, you can always catch it tomorrow.

Last night Prince Poppycock drew his inspiration from the Commedia Dell'Arte as he whisked in as a very grand Arlecchino. Brava brava!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tyburn, the 'Triple Tree' of Death

For those familiar with London, "Marble Arch" is a familiar facet of the city, whether you know it by the tube stop or by the randomly placed monument.  But long before tourists were wandering the area to gaze on the triumphal arch they were gathering by the hundreds to witness public executions.  For the current location of Marble Arch is roughly located in the same place as the Triple Tree, the massive gallows designed for multiple and very public hangings. 

While many an 18th century highwayman met his end at Tyburn the site had been used for hangings since the medieval period.  At first people would be lynched on the trees bordering the Tyburn river (a lost river which supposedly now flows underground).  In 1571 a more efficient gallows was constructed, its unique form came to be iconic.  Three posts eighteen feet high reached to the sky and met at the top to form a triangle.  The horizontal crossbeams were nine feet across allowing for multiple people to be strung across.  Not only was this design meant to be efficient in executing multiple people (rarely was there only one person executed at Tyburn) but it was also created with public viewing kept in mind.

Public executions were always a popular event to attend and Tyburn hangings always drew in a big crowd.  William Hogarth immortalized the Tyburn crowds in his Industry and Idleness series.  Monday was the big execution day, and for a fee you could get a seat in the stands specially built just to attend the hangings.  Other spectators had to push and shove in the crowd to get a glimpse while pickpockets and prostitutes made use of the spectacle to get some money in their pockets.

Although the posts were extremely high, the condemned wouldn't fall far.  The long fall, resulting in a broken neck from hanging wasn't utilized in public hangings until the mid 19th century.  Criminals were drawn up to the gallows in a cart with a noose around their neck.  The horse would be then be whipped so that the cart would be drawn away from the condemned and they would be left to swing and suffocate to their death.  A tip to the carter would hopefully get the horses going slightly faster...not that it mattered much.  Family members or hired persons would then grab on to the hanging bodies to add their weight in order to make the death swifter, otherwise a long agonizing death was imminent.

After the execution was performed the hangman would get your clothing, so choose your last outfit wisely (a nice waistcoat could mean a quicker execution).  The bodies would then be given to the family to be buried or the hospital to be dissected. 

The legendary triple tree was taken down in 1759 because it obstructed the roads.  The large gallows was replaced by a movable one yet the spectacle of the hangings was still causing traffic problems in a city already burdened by traffic jams so public hangings at Tyburn officially ended in 1783 and were moved to Newgate Prison (where the condemned came from anyway). 

While a nice marble triumphal arch is not as much of an eyesore as the Tyburn Tree, London still gives a nod to the legendary place where so many died and so many more were entertained by the criminals' demise.  In the sidewalk, in front of gorgeous white-stone homes, a memorial stone lies on the site beside three bronze squares marking where each of the iconic eighteen foot posts once stood.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Felicity Nussbaum talks Rival Queens in UPenn Podcast

Check it out here

Felicity Nussbaum, author of Rival Queen dishes about those 18th century actresses we all love to gossip about on a new podcast put out by the UPenn Press.  Topics include actresses' rivalries, memoirs, promotion, fashion, class infiltration, and even products.  Once again, it would appear our celebrity-crazed century isn't too different from the 18th century.  Or perhaps we could still learn a trick or two from these dramatic dames!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yay or Nay? Louise Élisabeth

Menswear in the watermelon shades (even a loose black cravat for the seeds!) has its appeal and the Earl of Charlemont was award a Yay for his fetching attire.  Although I raised an eyebrow at the cravat I can't argue with the panel.  Now let's look at something from the Van Dyck line.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard paints an apparition of Louise Élisabeth (1788) after her death.  But has she returned to the earthen world in good clothes?  Yay or Nay?