Monday, 20 September 2010

'Ingres in Fashion' by Aileen Ribeiro

As I have been immersing myself into the Victorian era recently, I though I would continue the theme. I have borrowed this book (Ingres in Fashion by Aileen Ribeiro) several times from the Library because it is a fascinating insight into the fashionable world of the Victorian era in France. The author has done a great deal of research into the way wealthy women dressed and the fashions of the time, from late regency through the Victorian era. Some of Ingres' work leaves me cold, but these portraits of wealthy French aristocrats and business people are amazing. It is almost photo-realism, because the silks shimmer like silk and the jewellery sparkles. This portrait is of Louise de Broglie, Comtesse d'Haussonville (1845).

This portrait is of Josephine-Eleonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Bearn, Princesse de Broglie (1853). The detail of the materials is quite astonishing and I love the shade of blue in her dress. The sitter had five children but died of consumption in 1860, aged 35.

The very famous Marie-Clothilde-Ines de Foucauld, Madame Moitessier (1856). This portrait is in the National Gallery in London (when it isn't going on international tours) and I had the opportunity to study it when I was there a couple of years ago. Although the paintings look so realistic, when you go up as close as you can, they become much more impressionistic. For example, the amethyst bracelet on her left arm has beautiful diamonds on it, but up close, the diamonds become white dots of paint. This doesn't detract from the incredible talent of Ingres at all in my opinion. These portraits give us an idea of the image the women's husbands wished to show the world. However, I do wonder whether they enjoyed their lives as Victorian women lived under strict rules of conduct and morality.

The book itself - one to really lose yourself in.

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