Thursday, December 26, 2013

At the vanity, 1700-1750

Madame has a number boxes and pots, one undoubtly for powder and one for jewelry. There is also a large brush behind the mirrror that looks like it is meant for clothes. It is worth noting that everything on the vanity is a matching set. Colour and shape suggest laquered goods from China. She seems to be in the process of applying rouge while listening to what the visiting priest is reading.
La toilette de Madame Geoffrin by Nicholas Lancret (1690-1743)

The lady above use her fingers for her rouge, but Madame de Pompadour use a small brush to apply hers. It might have been a matter for preference, but a rouge based on fat is easier to apply with the fingers and a dry one with a brush, so that might also be a reason. The powder puff with the small handle is meant to freshen up the powdered hair. An illustration plate from Encyclopédie Méthodique, Arts Mécaniques show a very similar puff.
Madame de Pompadour at Her Toilette by François Boucher, 1750's

Similar rouge box and brush.
Enamelled gold box for rouge and patches with brush by Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, 1780-1782
This unknown lady is in the process of applying her patches, the lid of her patch box showing a portrait of a man, probably her lover. One can suspect that the powder puff, which looks exactly the same as the one of the portrait of Madame de Pompadour, was one of Boucher's props.
A Lady Applying A Beauty Patch by Francois Boucher
It seems to have been quite popular to have been painted with a patch ready at a finger tip. More matching, probably laquered boxes. I wonder if it is the handle of a brush we are seeing.
Anne de La Grangem Trianon by François-Hubert Drouais, (1727-1775)
La Mouche, A Lady at Her Toilet by Louis Tocque

Beside the patch box there are also a jewelry box and a rouge brush on the vanity. And a cylindrical etui, which I am curious about. anyone who knows what it was used for? Needles perhaps, though it seems a bit too big for that.
Portrait of Marquise de Gast by Donatien Nonnotte, 1743
Despite being a charicature, the vanity table looks very much like they do on more serious pictures.
La Folie Pare La Decrepitude Des Ajustements De La Jeunesse by Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694-1752)
Many vanity tables on 18th century paintings seems to have been especially furnished for that purpose, with cloth fitted over them, but there are also paintings were the table have several purposes. There is also a charming drawing by Sergel, which I can't find online, of a lady getting her hair dressed by her maid in the kitchen, while food is being prepared in the background.
A Lady at Her toilet by Jean Raoux, 1727
Queen Caroline at Windsor at her dressing table with her two oldest children, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York:by Johann Zoffany
Circle of The Master of the Reflessi
François Hubert Drouais

 A lady in the process of powdering her hair
A Lady at her toilet table, dressed in a peignoir by an unknown artist, c. 1750
Not a vanity painting, but I include it because the little girl still have her curling paper in her hair, a nice peek into the process of dressing hair.
Madame Liotard and her Daughter by Jean-etienne Liotard (1702-1789)



  1. It is striking how much more elaborate beauty equipment has gotten between the 17th century images and these.

    1. Isn't it? The 18th century is the first real consumer decade and matching beauty products was a whole new market. Very popular as an engagemnet gift. :)

  2. Hello. You don't know me, but I think your blog is terrific and I have nominated you for an award over at my site:

    1. Yes I do, I read your blog occasionly, but I don't knit, so I don't have much to say. :) Thank you so much!


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