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Posts Tagged ‘19th century’

Because so many people come to this blog for tips on hosting a Victorian-style dinner, I thought this would fit right in. It’s from an article I read recently describing the fashions of serving food and laying tables in the 19th century.

 

“Dinner Old English style, which actually originated in the 18th century, referred to the style of placing all food items on the table before the diners sat down. In this service, guests could help themselves to the food items set out before them, within the bounds of proper manners. Where servants were unavailable it was considered, by some writers as late as the 1870s, “acceptable” behavior to help oneself to any dish on the table within reach. This service changed throughout the 19th century, taking on bits and pieces of other styles.

 A departure from the Old English style called for food items to be replaced by decorative centerpieces. This style was commonly referred to as à la Russe in late 19th-century guidebooks. Serving dinner à la Russe became fashionable among European elites during the 1850s and 1860s, and by the 1870s it has also become fashionable in the United States.” (82)

 Because the high cost of employing the many servants that were needed for the dinner à la Russe, and the shortage of good servants at the end of the 19th century, a new style called American style arose. “In the American dinner service the table was laid in the same manner as that of the à la Russe style, the major difference between the two was that the American style required the host and hostess to divide food portions on individual plates and then pass them or have them passed around the table by a servant. Food items from each separate course were placed on the table and then served from there or a side table.” (83)

 How a table looks like is described here by describing a boarding-house table: “If the table is void of flowers, and other side decorations, including olves, rashishes, and celery, tastefully arranged napkins and wineglasses, an impression is given os a boarding-house table.” (84)

 When the courses grew larger in number, the plates grew smaller to accommodate the smaller portions served. At the end of the 19th century, plates were on average 2 inch smaller in diameter than earlier on in the century.

(All info and citations from “A la Russe, à la Pell-Mell, or à la Practical: Ideology and Compromise at the Late Nineteenth-Century Dinner Table” by Michael T. Lucas, which appeared in Historical Archaeology, Vol. 28, No. 4, 1994.  

 

 

 

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These days, thanks to the amazing Google Art Project, you don’t need to travel to see great art. You can browse paintings and sculptures by your favourite artist, timeperiod, or museum.

So for today, I curated this little exhibition for you from works that are located in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The museum itself is much more amazing, and in no way comparable to seeing art online, but it’s still nice to have all the art you want at your fingertips.

A little collection of romantic and impressionist artworks, closing with my favourite artist of all time.

Spring Landscape, 1862, Charles-François Daubigny

In the Conservatory, 1878 – 1879, Edouard Manet

The Grove, or the Admiral’s House in Hampstead, 1821 – 1822, John Constable

The Isle of the Dead, 1883, Arnold Böcklin

Seine Landscape near Chatou, 1855, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

The Flax Barn at Laren, 1887, Max Liebermann

Moonrise over the Sea, 1822, Caspar David Friedrich

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One time when I was procrastinating in the library I happened upon this truly amazing book. It was a very small book, originally written for children, called When I was a Girl in Holland. It’s actually a very simple concept: a girl growing up in the Netherlands around 1880 describing her life, the routines and habits and holidays. This book and others in the series were meant for American children to get a view of how children in other countries lived.

The book is especially interesting because this sort of information is rarely given usually, it’s considered too trite. For example, how does a birthday party in 1880 look? How many people were hired to work on a farm, or why could Dutch people only visit their far-away relatives in winter (answer: they could ice-skate in winter and travel far larger distances!)

I searched for a long time and found the entire book online, it’s an amazing read. For the next few weeks, I’ll publish a few sections from the book, some things that I think would be interesting to you.

If you want to read the entire book, you can do so here.

Here’s the first snippet, about the writer being born:

During the next ten days, little blond, red-cheeked girls came trudging through the snow. Some were carrying parcels in their mittened hands, others had flat red-painted boxes. They knocked at the front door, called “Folk in,” and were led into the house. They placed the parcel or the box in the hands of the maid and timidly said:

“The compliments of mother, and here is a present.”

The present appeared to be a dress, an apron, a petticoat, or a pair of socks, if it came from a parcel, but if it was taken from a box it was bound to be a large layer-cake or several small tarts, baked by the village baker or bought in the nearest town, and intended for the party. [...]

Now the girl was led into the big livingroom and seated on an old-fashioned chair with reed bottom; on the table before her was placed a dainty, crisp Dutch rusk covered with butter and sugar. This she ate, that I might grow up into a healthy and strong child.

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Here’s a fragment from Hodgson Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy, in which you can see a little bit of the customs regarding compliments in the later half of the nineteenth century:

“Come here, Lord Fauntleroy,” she said, smiling; “and tell me why you look at me so.”
“I was thinking how beautiful you are,” his young lordship replied. Then all the gentlemen laughed outright, and the young lady laughed a
little too, and the rose color in her cheeks brightened.
“Ah, Fauntleroy,” said one of the gentlemen who had laughed most heartily, “make the most of your time! When you are older you will not
have the courage to say that.”
“But nobody could help saying it,” said Fauntleroy sweetly. “Could you help it? Don’t YOU think she is pretty, too?”
“We are not allowed to say what we think,” said the gentleman, while the rest laughed more than ever.


So there you have it. The name Hodgson Burnett might sound familiar: she was the writer of A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911). Little Lord Fauntleroy was a much earlier work: it was published in 1886. I found the book to be an unexpectedly good read; it was very enjoyable, funny at times, and with a great and amusing use of language. It was so engaging even that I finished it in less than a day. You can read it online here.

An interesting fact is that this book, just like Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, influenced fashion. Little Lord Fauntleroy’s velvet suit with a white collar and his soft curls are mentioned often in the book, and apparently started a fashion (mostly with mothers of young boys) for little suits and pincurls for boys!

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It would go too far to describe the entire history of gardening in the Nineteenth Century, so I’ll just give you some tidbits:

Wardian Case: The Wardian case was invented by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, in 1829. By accident he found out that his ferns grew very well in bottles, and he developed this idea to a larger case to hold full-grown flowers. This meant a great increase in the amount of flowers available in Europe. It became easier to import flowers because they were encased in a constant climate and did not suffer from the change of air and temperature while they were transported, and it was easier to keep exotic flowers alive during winter.

(Image from Wikipedia.)

Lawnmower: The lawnmower was invented in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, and was inproved quickly from a large and difficult machine to something that could be used by hand, by everybody. (Of course, women would not mow lawns.) The invention of the lawnmower caused a big rise in lawns in garden design around 1840, where before mostly flower arrangements and grit were fashionable.

Using flowers in interior design: Of course the Victorians were keen to find new ways to decorate the interior. Flowers were increasingly used in the Nineteenth century, not just as a bouquet but arranged as large ornaments. Here are some images from the book “The Victorian Flower Garden” by Jennifer Davies.

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A popular pastime in the Nineteenth Century: an organized fern hunt. Found ferns could be added to ones fern collection, which was immensely popular.
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The July Monarchy (1830-1848) was established in France with the reign of Louis Philippe of France. His predecessor, Charles X, was abdicated during the July Revolution. This revolution had been launched in July of 1830 by the merchant bourgeoisie, who were outraged to be ousted from the limited voters list.

The July Monarchy was a period of liberal monarchy rule of France under Louis-Philippe. Charles X of the House of Bourbon was overthrown in the July Revolution, and was succeeded on August 9, 1830 by Louis-Philippe of the House of Orléans. Proclaiming himself the “King of the French” (roi des Français) instead of “King of France” (roi de France), thus underscoring the supremacy of popular sovereignty, Louis-Philippe established a moderate, constitutional monarchy.

The renovated regime (often called the July Monarchy or the bourgeois monarchy) rested on an altered political theory and a broadened social base. Divine right gave way to popular sovereignty; the social centre of gravity shifted from the landowning aristocracy to the wealthy bourgeoisie.

The monarchy was marked by continued dissension on the Left and its overwhelming bourgeois character.

The new regime’s ideal was explicated by Louis-Philippe’s famous statement in January 1831: “We will attempt to remain in a juste milieu (the just middle), in an equal distance from the excesses of popular power and the abuses of royal power.”

Further reading:
Bartleby.com
Tocqueville.fr

Unrelated, but interesting links:
A Very Fine Romance wrote some very fine articles on the Habsburg Monarchy, definitely worth a visit!
History of Art Blog posted an article on crowds in landscape paintings, which has some very interesting insights.
Victorian Novel Community a community all about Victorian novels. There is not a lot of action but it makes a good read.

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Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen in 1770 (according to some accounts, in 1768), the son of an Icelander who had settled in Denmark and there carried on the trade of a wood-carver. This account is disputed by some Icelanders, who claim Thorvaldsen was born in Iceland.

Young Thorvaldsen attended Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi), winning all the prizes including the large Gold Medal. As a consequence, he was granted a Royal stipend, enabling him to complete his studies in Rome, where he arrived on March 8, 1797. Since the date of his birth had never been recorded, he celebrated this day as his “Roman birthday” for the rest of his life.

Thorvaldsen’s first success was the model for a statue of Jason, which was highly praised by Antonio Canova, the most popular sculptor in the city. He had worked on this statue for 25 years. In 1803 he received the commission to execute it in marble from Thomas Hope, a wealthy English art-patron. From that time Thorvaldsen’s success was assured, and he did not leave Italy for sixteen years.

In 1819 he visited his native Denmark. Here he was commissioned to make the colossal series of statues of Christ and the twelve Apostles for the rebuilding of Vor Frue Kirke (from 1922 known as the Copenhagen Cathedral) between 1817 and 1829, after its having been destroyed in the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. These were executed after his return to Rome, and were not completed till 1838, when Thorvaldsen returned to Denmark, being received as a hero.

He died suddenly in the Copenhagen Royal Theatre on March 24, 1844, and bequeathed a great part of his fortune for the building and endowment of a museum in Copenhagen, and also left to fill it all his collection of works of art and the models for all his sculptures very large collection, exhibited to the greatest possible advantage. Thorvaldsen is buried in the courtyard of this museum, under a bed of roses, by his own special wish.
(Source: Wikipedia)

The Thorvaldsen museum was started in 1839 and was designed by Danish architect H.G. Bindesbøll. Except for the regular collection, there are various exhibitions of new and young artists. Helping new talent was one of the last wishes of Thosvaldsen. Apart from Thorvaldsens work, there are also various paintings from his own collection, mostly from Danish and Norwegian painters whom he met in Rome.
Website: http://www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk

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