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Posts Tagged ‘victorian’

I just finished reading The Glass of Time by author Michael Cox. I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised! Usually I’m not a big fan of modern Victorian literature (mostly because it’s done badle quite often) but The Glass of Time makes a very nice read.

The book’s main character is Esperanza Gorst, who is send to serve as a lady’s maid to Baroness Tansor, by her mysterious Madame. By way of three letters, it is revealed to Esperanza why she is in the household and what her task is. During the course of the book, many secrets are revealed, some murders are witnessed, the beautiful architecture of the setting is described in detail, and we get to see some nineteenth-century London.
While the book at times tries to imitate actual nineteenth century literature, it’s a lot quicker than period literature and therefore makes a nice, easy read. In fact, I stayed up ’till late at night to find out whether Esperanza would succeed in her task! Definitely recommended.

The book’s not out yet but it’s up for preorder here.

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Beau Brummell, né George Bryan Brummell (7 June 1778, London, England – 30 March 1840 (aged 61), Caen, France), was the arbiter of men’s fashion in Regency England and a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He established the mode of men wearing understated, but fitted, beautifully cut clothes, adorned with an elaborately-knotted cravat.

Beau Brummell is credited with introducing and establishing as fashion the modern man’s suit, worn with a tie. He claimed to take five hours to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne. His style of dress was known as dandyism.

Apparently, Brummell is the main figure in a series of murder mystery books…That’s quite curious!

There are as much as two Brummell movies: this one and this one, and a BBC four series. I’m a big fan of the historical BBC series, usually they’re very accurate and interesting, and beautifully made. You can watch some clips of it on the site!

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Southern Gothic literature builds on the traditions of the larger Gothic genre, typically including supernatural elements, mental disease, and the grotesque. Much Southern Gothic literature, however, eschews the supernatural and deals instead with disturbed personalities. Southern Gothic is known for its damaged and delusional characters, such as the heroines of Tennessee Williams’ plays. Instead of perpetuating romanticized stereotypes of the Antebellum South, Southern Gothic literature often brings the stock characters of melodrama and Gothic novels to a Southern context.

My favourite writer was only born three years before the end of the nineteenth century, so I hope you’ll forgive me for posting it here.

William Faulkner is an American fiction writer whose work is deeply rooted in the Southern United States, particularly in his home state of Mississippi. William Faulkner, who lived from 1897 to 1962, had a unique, stream-of-consciousness writing style and was far more experimental with his texts than many of his fellow writers were. Though relatively unknown for much of his career, Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. Today, William Faulkner is considered to be one of America’s greatest Southern writers, along with Mark Twain.

Probably his most well-known story is “A Rose for Emily,” which is both romantic and creepy. You can read it online, here.

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Aubrey Beardsley was so extravagantly foppish, so precious in his speech and so languid in his posturings that Oscar Wilde claimed him for his own invention

Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (August 21, 1872 – March 16, 1898) was an influential English illustrator, and author. Beardsley was born in Brighton. In 1883 his family settled in London, and in the following year he appeared in public as an “infant musical phenomenon,” playing at several concerts with his sister. He attended Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School in 1884, and in 1888 he obtained a post in an architect’s office, and afterwards one in the Guardian Life and Fire Insurance Company. In 1891, under the advice of Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, he took up art as a profession. In 1892 he attended the classes at the Westminster School of Art,

He was aligned with the Yellow Book coterie of artists and writers. He was an art editor for the first four editions and produced many illustrations for the magazine. He was also closely aligned with Aestheticism, the British counterpart of Decadence and Symbolism.

Aubrey Beardsley was the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau era, renowned for his dark and perverse images and the grotesque erotica, which were the main themes of his later work.

(From here)

A gallery of his work

A sad story about his final days.

His writings and drawings in a book, free to read online

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I wanted to write this out but fashion-era’s site is very comprehensible. So here are three links which will show you how hair was worn during the nineteenth century!

1800-1840

1840-1870

1870-1899

A site with many articles on everything hat-related:

Victorian Hats

“Wearing every article of the same colour is fashionable only on condition the strictest uniformity of tone is maintained. “There is nothing more distressing than seeing a dress of deep blue, inclining to purple, with a bonnet with sky-blue ribbons.”

Beauty advice from a 1863 Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.

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Unrelated: Catherine Sherman posted a review on a book which seems very interesting: Kate Summerscale’s “The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.” you can read the review here. The book is a detective novel, set in 1860. It’s definitely on my to-read list! (On Amazon)

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Something I found on the Decayed Lace blog, which features some interesting writing and trivia:

[D]ear reader, let me kindly introduce you to the wonders of the so-called ANTIMACASSAR.
In order to fully grasp what’s to be understood by the concept of an antimacassar, one has to undertake a voyage back into the 19th Century- a voyage into the curious world of Victorian fashion and cosmetics, to be accurate!
As the devoted connoisseur of Yesteryear knows, it was the style in these days for a Gentleman to wear his hair in a carefully clipped coiffure [often in combination with sideburns, which were a token fashion item of the era] that was combed back rigorously and, in order to make it appear sleek and glossy, trickled with macassar oil. Thus, one could say macassar oil was the precursor of brillantine, which reached the height of its popularity during the rambunctious days of the Jazz Age. Today, the prospect of oily hair might appear to us as an outlandish fad, but back in the dear Golden Age gentlemen sporting an elaborately brillantined haircut were the pinnacle of elegance!
To the mistress of the Victorian household however, the lubricious
headdress usually was a mere nuisance- grease spots all over the backrest of your sofa! Therefore, the canny Lady would pin pretty white doilies on the spot of the furniture where the Gentleman’s head would be. These doilies -as you might have guessed by now, dear reader- were called antimacassar, pragmatically named after the principal purpose they had to serve.
[Considering the fact that Victorian Gentlemen also used other, rather revolting substances like beef suet or bear’s grease to control their hair, macassar oil might not have been that bad after all.]

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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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Demimonde was a polite 19th century term that was often used the same way we use the term “mistress” today. In the 19th century it primarily referred to a class of women on the fringes of respectable society supported by wealthy lovers (usually each had several). The term is also used to refer to these women as a group, and the social circles they moved in. As a group, the demimonde did not form a ‘society’ any more than modern prostitutes form a society. But they did represent a social class of women in the latter half of the 19th century and into the early 20th century who were commonplace fixtures in the upper class of French, English and, to some extent, American society. In the United States and Britain, they were (and still are) also often referred to as courtesans, though that term in the 19th century applied to a profession (as the term “prostitute” describes a profession), whereas Demimonde/Demimondaine was used to describe a broader social class. The term is French, and means literally “half-world”, implying those women existed on the fringes of the “real world.” It derives from a comedy by Alexandre Dumas fils published in 1855 called Le Demi-Monde.

Descriptions of the demimonde can be found in Vanity Fair, a novel which satirizes 19th century society written by William Makepeace Thackeray. Although it does not mention the terms ‘demimonde’ and ‘demimondaine’ (they were coined later), the terms were later used by reviewers and other authors in reference to three characters in it.

Source: Wikipedia

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Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914), a Danish-American journalist, photographer, and social reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark. He is known for his dedication to using his photographic and journalistic talents to help the less fortunate in New York City*, which was the subject of most of his prolific writings and photographic essays. As one of the first photographers to use flash, he is considered a pioneer in photography. [Source: Wikipedia.]

*The general consensus outside America seems to be that, while he partially wanted to help the less fortunate, quite a lot of his actions came from voyeurism and gaining a sense of control over the poor neighborhoods by taking pictures (a form of surveying.) It is generally known that he went to the neighborhoods at night, while the people were sleeping, and then fired his flash (hence all the sleeping people in pictures.) At the start of the 20th century, photography flash wasn’t as advanced as it was now, so there was quite an explosion. However, he did take some great photographs:


Wikipedia article on Riis
The full text of his main work, “How the Other Half Lives.”
Riis article from the Harvard site
Photographs.

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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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