Join us today for a very interesting look at some fascinating bits of history, as Diana Reid Haig, author of Walks Through Napoleon and Josephine’s Paris, shares some of the most awesome photos I’ve seen upto date to go along with that history!
Pull up a chair, relax and let yourself be transported as Diana acquaints us to the 18thc with a bit of Josephine and Marie Antoinette...
In the photo below, is the entrance to the Carmes Prison. Note the red climbing rose on the bannister (which always makes me think of Josephine/Rose). The saying in Latin carved by the steps means, "here they fell," and refers to the killing of many priests and prisoners on this spot during the September massacres of the French Revolution.
A church, once a monastary, lies over much of the jail, and this is the exterior of the church.
Deep inside the underground prison, they have vaults showing the bones and skulls of those murdered at the prison during the massacres.
A beautiful English woman named Grace Elliot, who was imprisoned at the same time as Josephine, said that she and Josephine (who became friends) could never forget that they were in the prison where these massacres had so recently taken place. Grace Elliot said that the floor and chairs were still stained with the blood of the priests that had been murdered.
Isn't it incredible to think of Josephine living there.... and going on to marry Bonaparte and
become an Empress!
By the way, I wanted to tell you that Josephine was the person who led me to Marie Antoinette.
As you know, Josephine is celebrated for her style, while Marie Antoinette isn't.
I was surprised to learn that Josephine searched for the artist, Pierre Redoute, who painted Marie Antoinette's flowers. Josephine commissioned Redoute to work on several books of flowers for her. Josephine's art director and "personal painter" was Jean-Baptiste Isabey, who had painted miniatures for Marie Antoinette. Josephine adored the Etruscan designs that Marie Antoinette had used on her china and in her rooms at Fontainebleau. and the Empress incorporated many of those design elements so beloved by the Queen.
Trianon moving mirror
How I love this. Taken in Marie Antoinette's boudoir at the Trianon. The mirrors
were designed to sink into the floor by day, so the Queen could enjoy the view of her garden from windows. By night the mirrors were raised using a system of pulleys, so that the windows were completely covered and no one could look in. While I was there, they lowered and raised them for me. I was in heaven!
***Marie Antoinette was handed a book and a pin cushion filled with pins when she awoke each morning. The book contains swatches of fabric and descriptions of dresses. She put a pin through the fabric of each dress that she wanted to wear, and then gowns (with appropriate accessories) were pulled from her closets and brought to her rooms.
There is only one book still intact in its entirety. It's in the French National Archives, and I wrote to them for almost three years before being granted permission to study it.
When I was done, the guards asked me if I wanted my photo taken holding the book! I was speechless but quickly took them up on their offer.
This book is one from the 1780s. All the rest were destroyed in the Revolution.
She had two books for every year.
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