madam pompadour

Do you ever see people whose faces echo another era?

I’ve seen women with the round faces, sparse brows and high foreheads of medieval illuminated manuscripts.

Men with dark brows that meet in the middle, olive skin, strong noses and jaws–Byzantine men, ghosts of Constantine, reanimated faces from the Fayum Mummy Portraits.

Women with soft figures and the large eyes and prim, petaled mouths of the 19th century.

Grizzled men whose brows predicate their gaze, whose wrinkles track into their thick beards and read like topographical maps of hardship and intensity–the wanderer, the poet; Whitman, Tolstoy, Carlyle. 

Faces sculpted into the perfect, deified symmetry of the pharaohs–almond eyes, full lips, self-assurance 3,000 years in the making staring at you at a stoplight.  

Plump, curved white wrists curled over purse handles in the waiting room and you think Versailles, Madame Pompadour, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great. Wide cheek bones, courage and sorrow in the scrunched face of the old man in line behind you and it’s Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Tecumseh. Reddened skin, thick forearms, hair and beard and brows burned by the cold into a reddish corn silk and you think Odin, the forge and the hammer and skin stinging from the salt of the ocean.

Virginia Woolf’s quiet brand of gaunt frankness surveys you in passing in the parking lot. Queen Victoria’s heavy-lidded stare and beaked nose are firmly, uncannily fixed on a sixth-grade classmate’s face.

Renaissance voluptuousness on the boardwalk by the beach. Boticelli’s caramel androgyny in a youth smoking on a bench outside the mall.

Jazz age looseness spurs the tripping gait of the man who watches you paint with his hands in his pockets, and he smiles a Sammy Davis Jr. smile and tells you that you look familiar, that he’s sure he’s seen you somewhere before, but he doesn’t know where or when.

Evening Dress

c.1850-1855

During the 1850s in France, there was renewed interest in eighteenth-century literature, art, and architecture and nostalgia for the lost world of Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour, who symbolized gracious living for the aristocracy and newly rich bourgeoisie. The resurgence of interest in rococo artists included reissues in England and France of engravings after the ornamental designs and paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau. The fabric itself, a Jacquard-woven silk produced in Lyons, reveals the derivative nature of mid-nineteenth-century textile design, which often used elements copied directly from prints of the work of well-known artists.

For the fabric of this ball gown, two images by Jacques-Philippe Le Bas after Watteau have been combined. It is likely that the fabric was originally meant to have been used for furnishings, probably for a bedroom or boudoir (dressing room or private sitting room). The silk’s swing design would have been considered provocative for the time since it had long been associated with love-making and seduction. The gown was possibly worn originally by a member of the demimonde such as an actress-or by a naive young woman. The choice of the swing theme was especially appropriate for an evening dress, in which the wearer would want to appear demure yet flirtatious.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

anonymous asked:

The costume Louise Linton wears in that CSI NY episode that is making the rounds - is this Glenn Close's Pompadour gown from Dangerous Liaisons? Because it looks way too amazing for a tv budget.

Unfortunately, they do not appear to be the same costume. The dress Louise Linton wears is green, while the one seen on Glenn Close is a dark blue.

The gown worn by Linton was most likely rented from an American costume house rather than made specifically for the episode, so the possibility of the costume having been used previously in other productions is fairly high. The gown worn by Close is most likely available through the London based costume house Cosprop.  In 2007 Cosprop put on a Fashion in Film Exhibit that comprised of some of their costumes from various films, and while the blue gown was not one of the pieces on display, two others costumes from Dangerous Liaisons were, making it likely that Cosprop houses the blue dress as well.

All of this being said, both costumes are very clearly modeled after a gown worn by Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour in a 1756 painting by François Boucher, which hangs at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.

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