[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.