Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

6.01.2013

Summer Color?

[Credits follow below]



[Bolivian blanket at The Loaded Trunk.]

Sure, icy lemonade-yellow, key-lime-green and popsicle-orange say summer is on, but the season is also about nuanced crepe myrtle and hydrangea blossoms ranging from deep wine to faded lavender. 

Crushed berry shades, like those, mixed with smudge-y aquas tend to turn up in the portraits of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, courtier-artist, brilliant colorist, and one of the few women in France's exclusive Académie Royale during the 18th century. As her subjects are sometimes swathed head-to-toe in weighty silks or opulent velvets (she had a keen sense of her era's fashion, too), the portraits shown here seem a little incongruous on a hot summer day in the South -- especially the one with the muff. Just study her palette, though, and I think you'll see connections with our crepe myrtle-lined streets and masses of hydrangeas. All of the purple-blues actually feel cool.      



[Chaise voyeuse, 1789, de Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené, Musée des Arts décoratifs © Les Arts Décoratifs / Jean Tholance.] 

But if the greens of summer leaves are more refreshing to you, take a look at the fabric on this chair intended for le salon turc of a different Élisabeth, Princess Élisabeth, younger sister of Louis XVI. Her short life, her country house in Montreuil near the Palace of Versailles, and her gardens are the focus of a new summer exhibition, Madame Élisabeth: Une princesse au destin tragique 1764 - 1794


Vigée Lebrun's portrait of Madame Elisabeth is in the show, and a digital edition of the artist's memoirs is here. For 21st-century insights on the period, Caroline Weber, fashion historian and professor of French literature and culture at Barnard, has an excellent book, Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. Plus you can find her on video here and here. She's a really engaging speaker. (Luckily, I was in the audience when she visited the High about six years ago to give a thought provoking lecture.)


Related past post: Textile of the Day: Aswan. 

Additional image credits: In the collages at top, hydrangea photos are by Ralph Anderson via Southern Living; Crepe myrtle pictures by Rob Cardillo, also SL.

Le Brun (or Le Brun attributed) works, clockwise from the top left: Woman in tall hat via Pinterest; Madame Molé-Reymond, 1786, via Wikimedia Commons; Madame d'Aguesseau de Fresnes, 1789, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.    

Background fabrics: Lisa Fine's Aswan in Monsoon, top; Zak + Fox's Palma in Mountbatten, small center ; Carolina Irving's Patmos Stripe Reverse in Viola. Photo of woman in front of sea-blue drawers is by Art Streiber from T & C, followed by Lisa Fine's Rajkot in Peacock/Coral.  

13 comments:

Mimi @A House Romance said...

Those colors, the blue and purple, are so luscious I want to repaint everything!

The Devoted Classicist said...

What a delight to see the chaise voyeuse in a reproduction of the original fabric (or an approximation of it). There is a pair at the Camondo with the original finish (not as white as shown here) that I featured in an earlier post of The Devoted Classicist. They had provided a description of the fabric, but it is a treat to see it. And the rest of the exhibit seems interesting, too.

tokyojinja.com said...

That first collage is exactly the color scheme in the living room/dining room of our beach house - only 14 days and counting till we are there! But tinged with so much sadness too, as I am working on the to-do list for the move here. Just taking a break and visiting you for some distraction....

Style Court said...

Mimi -- happy they inspired you!

Style Court said...

John -- this show sounds right up your alley, gardens, architecture, furniture and all. FYI, there's another striking, very fresh fabric in one of the installations but at this point I don't have any details.

Style Court said...

Jacqueline -- sorry about the bittersweet feelings. I do think of you when I combine soft purples and blues :) Safe traveling.

quintessence said...

What a lovely collage and beautiful palette!! And I was so excited to read about the exhibit - I am taking my girls to Paris in a few weeks and will of course be visiting Versailles. Hope I can convince them to stop in for a bit to see this.

quintessence said...

What a lovely collage and beautiful palette! And I'm so excited to read about the exhibit. I am taking my girls for their first trip to Paris in a few weeks and will of course be visiting Versailles. Hope I can convince them to pop in to see this!

Style Court said...

Q -- thanks!
I'm glad this post is well timed. You must go! It sounds really interesting. Weber's book gave me such a fresh way

Style Court said...

Q -- thanks!
I'm glad this post is well timed. You must go! It sounds really interesting. Weber's book gave me such a fresh way

Style Court said...

Fresh way to look at the period, I have to admit

quintessence said...

And I forgot to add that coincidentally, I gave this book to my sister for Xmas, who is joining me on the trip! A home run of a post!

Style Court said...

Oh, terrific! It's going to be an amazing trip for you all. (And thanks for the kind comment!)