In their introduction to The Decoration of Houses, Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., write, “In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the…View More The Fabric of Design
The demi-monde in France were some of the most powerful women during their era, many of them controlling some of the most powerful men in the world.
In her book Courtesans, Katie Hickman recounts a typical evening experienced by the Parisian demi-monde, the lauded lovers who tempted the males of the upper class by their very nature, and a number of them imports from the UK. As they would take to their boxes at the Opera en grande toilette (covered in jewels) with the grave and imposing bearing of ambassadresses, Hickman notes they held court as unapologetically as the royals did.
She revels in their gumption: “I like this description very much: it connects the courtesan to one of the categories of women that most people would think she was least likely to resemble, yet it is very apt. All but forgotten now, in their own lifetimes English courtesans of the stature of Cora Pearl, Sophia Baddeley, Elizabeth Armistead, Harriette Wilson and Catherine Walters—the five women whose stories I tell in this book—were important people.”
Hickman describes them as highly cultured women—“rich, famous and, most remarkably, independent females in an era in which this was almost an impossibility.” I could certainly see each of these “semi-mythical creatures” choosing the classically beautiful Courtesan chair from Alden Parkes for a special spot in her chamber or salon!
Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
A Passion for Painting Billowing ruched fabric, pointy toes of dainty shoes visible from beneath flounced skirts hemmed in gold fringes and ornate trims. A bejeweled…View More Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
Dining with History
A month from Sunday, I’ll be winging my way to Paris to attend Maison & Objet, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve been invited to…View More Dining with History
Decorating Hampton Court Palace
The premise of this article and the next one I’ll post here on The Diary of an Improvateur (next week) began with a rather capricious question:…View More Decorating Hampton Court Palace
Courtesan Style Counts
Everyone has a different definition of beauty but I’m betting it’s the rare soul who wouldn’t be enamored with this sexy chair by Alden Parkes, which…View More Courtesan Style Counts