Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Familiar Figurines

For those parents/aunts/uncles/godparents etc who like to nudge children in the right direction in terms of (historical) interest I have discovered some Playmobil selections for you to spread the influence with.  I have past posts on subliminally influencing children to follow the path of Enlightenment.  Perhaps you can follow up your 18th century children's book selections with toys.  Anyhow, in my course for wasting valuable time today I found some Playmobil figures that reminds me of some friends of ours.
Look at their little toy fans! A boudoir complete with a unicorn and crown... Does anything scream "Madame DuBarry" more?  And such a brash yellow-gold on a gown reminds me of Maria Josefa. I am also sure I've seen that hunky Marquess of Londonderry wearing that hat.

Hugh Thomson, Victorian Illustrator of Evelina

Not too long ago I was looking for a proper hardcover copy of Evelina. My, are they hard to come by!  I found the perfect one, it just happens to be a rare copy, difficult to come by.  It was also published in 1903.

The illustrations are done by the talented Hugh Thomson who was no stranger to Austen's work.  It's difficult to find the illustrations online but here are a few that I have come across.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yay or Nay? Madame Adelaide

Madame Le Couteulx de Molay hit a home run with her gown last week, earning her a Yay.  This week I've been seeing a lot of stars and stripes...but mostly stars.  So let's run with this theme!

Jean-Marc Nattier paints Marie Adelaide of France (1756) in a peach gown bedecked with silver stars. Yay or Nay?


Friday, May 27, 2011

Movie Review: Prada to Nada

Normally a contemporary-set movie review doesn't grace this blog however I found out about From Prada to Nada from my participation in the Sense and Sensibility Bicentennial Challenge at Austenprose.  This chick flick is a modern adaption of Sense and Sensibility and follows the same basic story: two sisters are left with nothing excluding the hospitality of friends after their father's untimely death.  But while they are adjusting to their new lives they must also adjust to the complications of dealing with the new cute boys who walk into them.

Sisters, Nora (Camilla Belle) and Mary (Alexa Vega) are both used to living the good life in LA and are totally unaware of their Mexican roots that their father is so proud of.  However when he is suddenly killed by a heart attack Nora, a law student, and Mary, a shopaholic must live with their aunt and her Spanish-speaking brood in East LA.  Instead of the sounds of the seaside like the Dashwood sisters the unfortunate Dominguez sisters are destined to the sounds of gunshots ringing through the air.  How ghastly!

From Prada to Nada is marketed as a Latina Sense and Sensibility which is apparent but not heavily so, because while it follows the same plotline familiar to Austenites, it is also laden with the theme of being connected to your culture.  While Elinor's gentle, stoic personality makes her such a silent main character in the book, her equivalent, Nora is more silent in regard to experiencing life.  She is focused on being a law student but at the same time has the Elinor quality of being devoted to family.  Interesting enough, while Marianne's ups and downs seem to take a major precedence in the book due to Marianne's loud personality, From Prada to Nada focuses more on the ups and downs of Nora and Edward Ferris' (yes that is his name) relationship.  I found that especially interesting because it seems like the Willoughby not writing back in London drama could write itself (he hasn't been texting me!) but the movie was totally void of that altogether. 

You won't find any monumental acting in the movie nor any great writing; it's up to par with the kind of acting/writing you would expect from any girls' sleepover movie.  I had seen Camilla Belle before in The Ballad of Jack and Rose with Daniel Day-Lewis and she did a much better job in that at a much younger age.  So I am inclined to think the director had every intention for the movie to take on a simple, light-hearted feel.

From Prada to Nada is silly, unrealistic, and far from winning any Oscars.  However I thought it was very cute, and appealed to my inner girly, I-love-happy-endings side.  Which is probably what drew me to Austen to begin with!  The word to describe it is "cute" and it would be a good movie for a girls' night in or for a relaxing night to yourself.  Anyone with high expectations or a jaded inclination should probably avoid this movie; but then again I would categorize myself as that so perhaps just a cheesy movie mood will prepare you for this one.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Evelina Group Read Rundown

With a week to go until our first salon I hope everyone has officially has begun reading Evelina.  I should also probably tell all those participating how I will go about conducting our book group, so here it goes!

The Layout
For those who participated in The Sylph Group Read last year, the layout should seem familiar.  I like to keep things casual; grab some tea (or beer, whatever floats your boat) and kick up your heels.  You can bring up the deep meaning or symbolism of this and that or you can just gossip casually. It's up to you!

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! The more varied minds there are the more fun gossiping we will have.

The Salons
Every Thursday in the month of June I will put up a post for the letters (or chapters) we will be discussing that week.  Many editions of Evelina are broken up into three volumes.  For the editions that are not divided into volumes I have put those chapters in parentheses.
2 June: Volume 1 Letters 1-20
9 June: Volume 1 Letter 21- Volume 2 Letter 6 (21-37)
16 June: Volume 2 Letter 7- 22 (38-53)
23 June: Volume 2 Letter 23- Volume 3 Letter 9 (54-71)
30 June: Volume 3 Letter 10-23 (72-84)
I have put all these dates on a Google calendar in case that is helpful for some.

If anything is unclear, please feel free to ask.  I can't wait to see you all next Thursday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Liotard's Portraits of the Royal Family

In his long life the pastel-ist, Jean-Étienne Liotard had the privilege of rendering the portraits of not one but two royal families.  You can find his portraits of Maria Theresa's brood on Lauren's blog today.  Here are Liotard's portraits of Frederick, Prince of Wales' family from 1754.

Frederick Prince of Wales

Princess Augusta Charlotte of Wales
George III
Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland
Princess Caroline Matilda
Princess Louisa

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Henry Robert Morland, The Fair Nun Unmasked, 1769

Monday, May 23, 2011

School For Scandal Scandilizing a Playhouse Near You

For those near LondonTown there is a play that you simply must see at the Barbican Theatre, The School For Scandal.  You may recall this was the play that Richard Sheridan wrote in which he based his main character, Lady Teazle, on Georgiana.  Other Devonshire Set friends could be found in it as well and he dedicated his play to Mrs. Crewe (who gleefully also saw herself in it).

The play seems to be taking the same approach as Sophia Coppola took when she directed Marie Antoinette; putting a modern outlook on a time period not too different from our own:
Deborah Warner's fresh take on Sheridan's The School For Scandal imbues this scorching comedy with contemporary resonance as our own celebrity-obsessed culture collides with the gossip-ridden, highfashion world of eighteenth-century London.
Just look at the play's site: a popart mesh of black, white, and pink.  One can only wonder how much of this ambiance carries over into the actual play.

I came across the play after seeing this not-so-flattering review in the The Evening Standard. So what is Henry Hitching's beef with the Barbican's production?  Not enough Sheridan.  Totally understandable!

The School For Scandal is now playing at the Barbican Theatre from now until 18 June.


Major James Fraser of Castle Leathers, 1720

detail Lord George Murray, first quarter of 18th Century
Domenico Duprà, John Drummond, 1739
Charles Campbell of Lochlane, ca 1745
Richard Wilson, Flora MacDonald, 1747
William Mosman, Sir James Sir Alexander Macdonald, 1749

Cosmo Alexander, A Jacobite Lady (Jenny Cameron), ca 1745
William Mosman, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, ca 1750
George Chalmers, Sir Alexander Macdonald
Joshua Reynolds, John Murray 4th Earl of Dunmore, 1765

Henry Raeburn, Niel Gow, 1787
Henry Raeburn, Colonel Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell of Glengarry, ca 1812

David Wilkie, George IV, 1829
In eighteenth-century England tartans were outlawed, but that didn't prevent sitters from being portrayed in them in their portraits.  Noble rebels such as the Duchess of Gordon and Frederick Prince of Wales (who much like a goth kid, wore it just to annoy his parents) were known for sporting plaid and getting away with it.  For more on these portraits of Scottish pride check out Portrait of the Nation now at the National Gallery of Scotland.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yay or Nay? Madame Le Couteulx de Molay

We came back from our Nay with a big Yay for Anna Karolina Orzelska . Not everyone was sold her accessories, but her dress was a big win.  I personally love the 18th century walking stick, and as someone pointed out, the accessory was a good match to Anna Karolina's personality. This week we're going to skip a few decades and land back into the 80's.

Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun paints Madame Le Couteulx de Molay (1788) in a black velvet reddingote and striped skirt.  Yay or Nay?

[Musée Nissim de Camondo]

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tart of the Week: Fanny Crewe

In the late 18th century there were three main Whig society hostesses, Georgiana, Lady Melbourne, and Mrs. Crewe.  All were good friends and all were considered the ton and members of the Devonshire House set.  All also qualify as tarts!

Frances Anne Greville was born in 1748 to two published authors, into a family with strong political connections, strong ties to the great minds of the time, and kickass girl power.  Who could complain?  Just sit back and absorb all of these connections.  Fanny's mother, Frances Macartney, was besties with Lady Spencer so Fanny and Georgiana most likely knew each other since childhood.  Fanny's Dad, Fulke Greville was besties with Dr Charles Burney, father of Fanny Burney so the two Fannys grew up together and were friends as well.  Talk about friends in all the right places!

With this social upbringing it is no wonder Fanny grew up talking and talking and talking.  All her life she was known as quite the chatterbox.  Georgiana once complained that Fanny had lately been a bit of a sycophant with her and needed to stop cooing over her.  Lady Douglas once stated that Fanny's "ideas came so quickly that [she] could not follow them" and assumed that neither could Fanny!

Fanny was also privileged enough to be considered a great beauty of the time.  Which no doubt helped to attract her husband to her.  She was married to John Crewe in 1766, joining two powerful Whig families together which worked out just perfectly for Mrs. Crewe who quite enjoyed playing hostess.  Her beauty and wit also got Fanny in trouble as well.  She succumbed to an affair with a frequent house guest and cohort of her husband's, Richard SheridanFox was right when he said "she loved high play and dissipation."

Of course Fanny's well-known beauty was up for debate depending on who you asked.  Fanny Burney said she was so beautiful that she "uglified everything near her."  However, if you asked the critical Lady Douglas she would tell you Fanny was "very fat with a considerable quantity of visible down about her mouth..."  Lady Sour Grapes seemed to not be be impressed with Mrs. Crewe.

Regardless of whether she was pretty or not or whether she was a big mouth or not, Mrs. Crewe's political influence cannot be denied.  She like Georgiana and other society hostesses was the backbone of political causes.  Organizing events to bring together the minds of political factions, participating in elections, and being prominent in public (and also risking reputation) in order to further the cause; Fanny did it all tirelessly.  She died as Lady Crewe (due to her husband's elevation to Baron in 1806) in 1818. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Dark Day

For those like myself who live on the east coast of the colonies, there has been the most dreadful weather over the past week.  I can't remember the last time I saw the sun.  Such was the case 231 years ago for residents of New England.  On 19 May, 1780 those in New England and part of Canada went about their day in the dark. 

The Dark Day, as it was called, began around 10 in the morning.  It became as dark as night outside, requiring people to use candles to go about daily life.  The darkness did not clear until the following day, but by then one case safely assume everyone's natural clockwork was set off by the bizarre weather.   It is thought that the cause of the phenomenon was a combination of Mother Nature's darkest elements: forest fire smoke, thick fog, and cloud cover. 

Now one can only hope the current dark day New England is experiencing 231 years later will soon be gone!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mind Your Drinking, Gentlemen

Many of us have hit the gin bottle for one reason or another and, as a consequence, have had a night they can't remember or don't want to remember.  Just ask Lord Santry who could tell you first-hand about the evils of drinking.

Harry Barry, Lord Santry was no stranger to drink and debauchery but it nearly cost him his head one fateful night in 1739.  Santry was boozing with his friends in Palmerstown to the point where he probably wouldn't be able to recognize his mother.  In the midst of this drinking a poor sap by the name of Loughlin Murphy dared to offend our most drunken of Lords.  One can only imagine what Murphy's offense was (my guess is Murphy was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time) but it offended Santry so much that he drew his sword...or at least attempted to draw his sword.  Since some form of sobriety is needed in order to utilize basic motor skills Santry failed in unsheathing his weapon.  He let Murphy off with a warning that he would run him through if he were to utter another word.  Murphy replied that he had no intention of offending his lordship to which Santry finally managed to free his sword and fatally stabbed Murphy. 

Despite Barry's efforts to cover up his crime he was sentenced by his peers and found guilty.  Luckily for him though, his buddy, the Duke of Devonshire, stepped in and secured a pardon from King George II who gave him a get-out-of-beheading pass.  But rest assured, the murderer spent the rest of his unhappy life riddled by debts which eventually lost him his home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Now at the Met

Ooo for those who are in NYC from now until 14 August, you can hit up this exhibition and the Alexander McQueen exhibit all in one go!

From the Met's site:
Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe
By 1750, almost 2,500 professional artists and amateurs were working in pastel in Paris alone. Portraits in pastel were commissioned by all ranks of society, but most enthusiastically by the royal family, members of the court, and the wealthy middle classes. Eighteenth-century pastels are brightly colored, highly finished, often of large dimensions, and elaborately framed, evoking oil painting, the medium to which they were invariably compared. The powdery texture of pastel and its diffuse, velvety quality were particularly suited to capturing the fleeting expressions that characterize the most life-like portraits. Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe includes some forty pastels, belonging to the Metropolitan Museum and, with important exceptions, to museums and private collections in the New York area. It presents Italian, French, and English works, supplemented by several German, Swiss, and American examples.
 Like most fabulous exhibitions, this one will (as of 31 May) have an exhibition catalog.  I will have to check out both before these fabulous paperworks are hidden away in the archives!

A Good Whig

"Mrs. Crewe" was a name synonymous with "Whig."  Frances Anne Crewe, later Lady Crewe was a leading society hostess who could talk politics as well as any man...that is, if you could follow along with her fast-paced conversation.  By all accounts Mrs Crewe was bubbly, which none of her portraits seem to convey.  But luckily Mrs. Crewe had her own special legacy to leave behind.

When any toast was given at a Whig function everyone would raise a glass and boisterously cry,
"Here's buff and blue and Mrs. Crewe!"
Wherever Fanny just happened to be at the time; in the middle of conversation, at cards, etc; she would turn, casually raise her glass and with natural grace reply:
"Here' buff and blue and all of you!"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Setting Sail

I was thumbing through Tom and Lorenzo's photos from Bridal Week in Barcelona.  Ah lots of lace this season, big surprise...*gasp*...what's this!

Victorio and Lucchino opted to bring back the ship headress!  Both Georgiana and Marie Antoinette were known to have sported this most extravagant of poufs in their time.  I think it looks hot!  Perhaps I could walk down the aisle with one when the time comes; the ship in the hair look is the ultimate status symbol.

I am having trouble finding the whole collection but here are more pictures of it.  There are a lot of Jane Austen-esque empire gowns in the mix too!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yay or Nay? Anna Karolina Orzelska

Poor Lady Gaga Anne-Germaine Larrivee; she thought out of the box and it was unsuccessful.  Her blue and white disaster earned her a Nay.  Maybe blue is not in this season...or maybe it is.  Let's check out a different shade.

Antoine Pesne paints Anna Karolina Orzelska (1730) unpowdered in rich blue silks complete with pug and walking stick.  Yay or Nay?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fan Giveaway Winners

Well after much ado *cough cough blogger being down* I am pleased to finally announce the winners of the 3rd blogiversary giveaway.  I selected the winners using the numbers generated from Random.org which claims to have the randomest of random numbers to randomly generate.

The winners of the snappy sandalwood fans are as follows:
Heidenkind- Who will now be able to hide behind a fan while she steals a snooze in class.
Lydia G- Who will now be able to turn her flirtatiousness up to the maximum level, especially during reenactments this summer.  Watch out, boys!
Vinery- Who will now be able to cover up those pesky champgane stains if she is ever unfortuate enough to be rudely bumped into again.  I think a fan will also be useful to swat any clumsy rapscallion who dares to bump into her as well!
Tourbillion- Who will not only needs a fan to match her gowns but to become a pro at flirting with them.

The winner of the white fan and cosmetic bag is:

Rebecca- Who will now have a fan in order to communicate with her bestie across the room at parties and avoid any unnecessary embarrassment. Yay!

Congratulations! Please email me (GeorgianaGossip@gmail.com) with your mailing addresses by the stroke of Twelve midnight next Thursday 19 May.

Thank you to all who entered.  I had a good many laughs reading all your reasons for needing fans.  If only I could give you all fans!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


For my part, I confess I seldom listen to the players: one has so much to do, in looking about and finding out one's acquaintance, that, really, one has no time to mind the stage. One merely comes to meet one's friends, and show that one's alive.
-Fanny Burney on attending plays

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Announcing the Evelina Group Read

Gentle Readers,

I am very excited to make the long-await announcement for a group read of Fanny Burney's first novel which she published anonymously, Evelina, or a History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World.  The book was a big success and even an inspiration to Jane Austen.  Queen Charlotte liked the book so much she hired Fanny as a Keeper of the Robes, much to Fanny's chagrin.  But who can say "no" to the queen; especially when she is your fan!  Now it's our turn to find out if we enjoy Fanny's wit as much as Queen Charlotte (my money is on "yes") with the Evelina Group Read.

Book Editions
Our salons will meet once a week (every Thursday) here to discuss designated chapters but that doesn't mean you can't get a head-start now!  Many local libraries may just have this classic in their stacks.  Amazon also has many affordable editions of the book from Penguin Classic, Oxford World Classics, Norton, and Broadview (which I personally enjoyed).  GirleBooks has an ebook version for free.  Lauren even found an audiobook from SilkSoundBooks in which Judi Dench is one of the readers; doesn't that sound awesome?  Our group read will also offer participants and opportunity to win a copy of the soon-to-be treasured book!

Mark your calendar, the tentative salon schedule is as follows:
2 June: Volume 1 Letters 1-20
9 June: Volume 1 Letter 21- Volume 2 Letter 6
16 June: Volume 2 Letter 7- 22
23 June: Volume 2 Letter 23- Volume 3 Letter 9
30 June: Volume 3 Letter 10-23

So who is with me?  The more the merrier I say!  Please don't let anyone miss out on your wit!  Sign up below via the Mr. Linky widgit (hit refresh if you don't see it below).  Stay tuned to the blog for more details.  I can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Horrible Fan Histories

While participating in the fan giveaway, Rebecca pointed out not one, but two Horrible History videos that have escaped under my radar.  Both regard fan language in the delightful way we expect to be educated by Horrible Histories.  Check them out!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yay or Nay? Anne-Germaine Larrivee de Vermenoux

Miss Ridge won us over last week and she gained a Yay for her simple yet unique gown.  But simplicity isn't the name of the game this week.

Jean-Étienne Liotard draws Anne-Germaine Larrivee (1764) in her very couture gown of blue and white and pearls.  Yay or Nay?

[Private Collection]