Read like it’s 1804

In 1804, Britain is uneasy. The short peace of Amiens ended the previous year, and now war is escalating in Europe again. Napoleon keeps a large army at the Northern coast of France. The British government builds small defensive forts to protect the coasts of south east England and Ireland against the threat of a French invasion. In December, Spain will again declare war on Britain. What can you read to distract the mind in these difficult times?

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One Dance, Many Dangers: the Waltz during the Regency Period

May I have the pleasure of this Waltz? It is the most controversial dance of the Regency Period. That the Waltz was considered scandalous certainly isn’t new to you. But there were more reasons than too much intimacy between the dance partners that made people turn up their noses at the Waltz. Among the despisers was e.g. Lord Byron who can hardly be counted among the moralisers of the age. So what was wrong with the Waltz? Continue reading

The craze for transparencies

Transparencies – translucent hand-coloured prints or drawings – became common from around the 1770s. Their popularity peaked from the 1790ies until well into the early 19th century.

Transparencies were displayed at home or, in larger size, at nearly every kind of festivity from assemblies and dinners to astronomical lectures and theatres. You would find them at fairs, pleasure gardens and public celebrations.

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Object of interest: A pianino with a ‘long neck’

In 1709, Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano. From the second half of the 18th century, keyboard instruments underwent many improvements: When London became a major centre of piano building in the mid-1760s, inventive companies such as Broadwood hit the market with the so-called square piano. It was built in a form resembling the clavichord. Compact and less expensive than wing-shaped grand piano, the square piano quickly became the keyboard instrument of choice in the late 18th century – the one Jane Austen’s heroines would play. However, competition for the square piano arose on the Continent: a tall, strikingly looking instrument called the pianino.

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Daring & Skill: 10 Women who Conquered the Art World

Art had long been the domain of men. However, from about 1760, women in Britain and France made a splash in painting, engraving and even, sculpturing. Most famous are today the painters Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Angelika Kauffmann, both superstars of their time. However, many more women made careers in the art scene. Let me introduce you to 10 British female artists from all ranks of life.

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The informal gentleman

When 18th century-people wore clothes that were called “undress”, it did not mean anything … incident. “Undress” was the word for informal fashion, something worn at home. However, “undress” in the time of Jane Austen was much more formal than today’s informal fashion is. The famous “banyan” – a morning gown for men – cannot be compared to a convenient jogging suit or a bathrobe. The banyan was an exquisite piece for gentlemen, proving their taste and wealth. It was perfectly fine for a host to receive friends and business partners when wearing a banyan.

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