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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Forecasting the Weather in the 18th Century

Will there be rain, sun or snow within the next days? Should I plant my crops – or rather delay a journey? Predicting the weather was an art by itself in the 18th century. A scientific approach to weather forecasting started in earnest from the early 18th century, but progress was slow. So how did people like Jane Austen forecast the weather?

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Becoming King: Napoleon, Maximilian & The Coronation Ceremony that never was

In the early 19th century there was hardly a more experienced kingmaker than Napoleon Bonaparte: He had crowed himself as Emperor of France in 1804, became King of Italy in 1805, and made his relatives Kings of the Kingdom of Holland (1806), the Kingdom of Naples (1806 and 1808), the Kingdom of Westphalia (1807) and of Spain (1808). He also made his ally, Maximilian IV Joseph, prince-elector of Bavaria, a King in 1806. The coronation of the King of Bavaria was planned to be a splendid affair, and everyone invested large amounts of money, time and craftsmanship, but alas….

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When scents became seductive

France, center of fashion for all matters of beautiful living! In the 1. half of the 18th century, the court indulges in heavy scents. Perfume is a fashion statement as well as a necessity: scents are used to protect oneself from bad, contagious smells, and they are also a symbol of social power. But progress in medical knowledge leads to a new view on scents, and with this, new fragrances become fashionable. This so-called olfactory revolution is eagerly adopted by British noblemen and -women on their Grand Tour of the Continent …

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A True Luxury Product: The Dress Pistol of the Napoleonic Era

Imagine you are a statesman of a country allied to Napoleonic France. Napoleon is visiting, and you are having a warm and welcoming chat. Your chances are very high that he will present you with a beautiful, ornate, expensive dress pistol to honour your loyalty. Napoleon liked gifting his allies as well as his best military men with such superb arms, and they were true luxury gifts. They were made by one of the most sought-after arms makers of the age at a specialised workshop at Versailles: Nicolas-Noël Boutet. Have a look at a beautiful example here:

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Read like it’s 1823!

Eight years after the Napoleonic Wars, the economy gets back on track. Science and technology advance significantly. Politicians are discussing reforms, and some repressive laws have already been repealed. All the while, high society sticks to the ‘old’ ideas and rules.
The book market is a mirror of this situation: the fiction genre mainly celebrates the familiar authors, but at the same time it starts to open towards more ‘radical’ topics.
In non-fiction, new publications highlight the path to the future, or look back to the ‘good old times’ of everyone’s favourite enemy: Napoleon.

Check out my list of popular fiction and non-fiction releases. I have added links to online versions of each book, so you can actually read like its 1823!

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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