How to use a dance card in the Romantic Age
For a young lady few things would be more satisfying than being a sought-after dancing partner at a glamourous ball. But if she was in constant demand, how would she keep track of the partners engaging her for the waltz or the cotillion later in the evening? And how would a gentleman secure a dance with her?
Keeping track of the gentlemen who had promised a dance in the course of the evening was done – on the Continent – with the assistance of a so called ‘carnet de bal‘ (a dance card). A gentleman would ask a lady to write down his name on the card a for a specific dance. These small and often precious carnets de bal were very popular in France and Austria throughout the 18th century.
In Britain, the dance card became fashionable at around the turn of the 18th century. The carnet de bal initially was often less elaborate than the Continental model.
Recent research shook food historians and the community of 18th-century enthusiasts alike: The beloved British dessert, Apple Charlotte, was not invented by the famous chef Marie-Antoine Carême! Credit for the sweet creation made of apples, white bread, butter, and sugar was given to a certain John Mollard. – But who was he?
Mr. Mollard was a leading chef and had run a number of prestigious restaurants catering to high-quality customers in the period from the 1780s to 1830. However, it is doubtful that he did indeed invent the Apple Charlotte.
In the 18th century, Venice was among the top destinations of the Grand Tour. The city was experiencing a period of peace, and economy and arts flourished. Thiss attracted rich British tourists. They indulged their sense of luxury, spent their days at leisure at Caffè Florian or Caffé Lavena, and enjoyed the opera, gambling, dancing, fireworks and spectacles. Buying art was also high on the list of things to do, and paintings with views of the City by sought-after artists such as Antonio Canal (Canaletto) made an excellent souvenir. Of course, pretty trifles were taken back to Britain as well. These could, e.g., be hand-held fans. Let’s have a closer look at one of these beautiful items.
The bright yellow winter aconite provides welcome colour to British gardens early in the year. Winter aconite blooms as early as January, and grows en masse under trees. Did you know that the 18th-century fashion for landscape gardens brought the little plant into fashion? Continue reading
Simply by its alluding name the Carlton House desk immediately catches the attention of a Regency Enthusiast. The imagination produces an exquisite piece of furniture made of exotic woods, rich in ornaments, and designed for no less a person than the Prince Regent. Though some antique dealers like to dwell on this lovely image, it is but a half-truth.
Compiègne was one of three seats of the French royal government. The royal residence we know today, the Château de Compiègne, was built for Louis XV. Napoleon restored the château after it was left gutted during the French Revolution, and he ordered it to be made habitable again in 1807. He had its layout altered, a ballroom added, and the garden replanted.
But what did the restless French emperor do with another palace? Well, he lived there with his young bride, Marie-Louise, and it was there where they spent their first night together. Continue reading
In this post:
- The marvel of the panoramic scene wallpaper
- Technical innovations of the early 19th century
- Keeping the craft alive
Panoramic scene ‘L’Hindoustan’ in the Garden Room of Basildon Park / England
Wallpaper has been known since at least the 15th century. Starting as a rare luxury item for the elite, wallpaper became more popular in England at the beginning of the 18th century. By then, wallpaper had become a cheap alternative to tapestry or panelling. 1712, the government even imposed a tax on it. Despite the taxation the demand for wallpaper grew in the mid-18th century.
Most wallpapers had been brought to England by the East India Company from China, where Chinese artisans produced hand-painted, dedicated wallpaper for their rich English customers. By the end of the 18th century, producers in France specialized in printed wallpaper became an important competitor on the market. Continue reading
In this post:
- A lady’s rose
- the East India connection
- Amateurs – a class of its own
- The Chinese key to heaven
The rose is the national flower of England. It is, however, not the rose we know today that became the symbol of the country. The English rose – rosa gallica officinalis –was, roughly said, a wild rose. It was very popular in British gardens of the 18th century, as its fruits could be used as tea, marmalade, or as medicine (thus the alternative name apothecary’s rose).
It was only from the mid-18th century that natural philosophers and gardeners began to experiment with new varieties of roses that had been introduced from other countries. By the end of the 18th century, cultivated roses had spread throughout Europe, and with it a new enthusiasm for this beautiful flower.
When budding star-architect Robert Adam returned from his Grand Tour in 1758, he needed to find clients for the glamorous style he had developed in Italy. He knew that only the very rich would be able to pay for the grandeur he designed. Thus, he and his brothers settled close to High Society. They set up their home first at St. James’s Place, then at Lower Grosvenor Street in London. It was most important for Robert to be regarded as a gentleman architect rather than a professional architect, as he feared that being the latter would lower his status to a mere craftsmen. Robert displayed the many sketches he had made in Italy in his home, while the drawing office was located at New Bond Street, ‘invisible’ for his clients.
It was difficult for the ambitious Adam brothers to find their first commissions. Aristocrats who hadn’t mind Robert’s company abroad in Italy weren’t willing to socialise with him in snobbish London. Eventually, two women were instrumental in starting the Adam brothers’ career. Continue reading
The young man was an upper-middle class Scotsman, a second son, and he had left university prematurely. But he possessed genius and ambition, a convenient wealth of 900 pounds a year, and some hands-on experience gained at his family’s architectural practice. Thus, he was well equipped to embark on a journey to the Continent in the company of an Earl’s brother in 1754. Yet, Robert Adam, aged 26, was not to know that this journey would be the key to making him the most sought-after architect of his time.
The year 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the death of the famous Scottish architect Robert Adam (3 July 1728 – 3 March 1792). This post is dedicated to the aesthetics of his unique neo-classical style. I have compiled a selection of photos of Adam’s works, from ceilings to chimney-pieces. You are very welcome to enjoy the delicate and the decadent, and the weird and the wonderful. Continue reading