Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eye-Feasting, eat up!

The artist is Bernard Tartinville and I was alerted to him through Style Bubble who found him here. Being a true-blue art history gal I am always attracted to photography that has an antique look. This series is like Joel-Peter Witkin meets Annie Liebowitz. The result is a feast for the eyes.



btart



btart2



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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mother Knows Best

"Do not say that money matters are hopeless, a firm resolution not to buy so much as a yard of ribband will soon effect wonders you are little aware of."




Lady Spencer
September 10, 1790

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tart of the Week: Jane, Duchess of Gordon



Jane was the Tory version of Georgiana and her fiercest rival. Indeed the two women were foils, Jane being an outspoken Scot with a competitive nature loved being a Tory hostess just as much as Georgiana enjoyed being a Whig one. But upon closer examination of this tart we find that the two women had a lot in common and if they weren't so similar they may have been the best of friends.

Jane Maxwell was the daughter of a typical poor, drunken baronet. While her father sold off his lands to pay his debt her mother educated her and her sisters in Edinburgh. When she was 14 Jane accidentally jammed a finger from her right hand in a carriage wheel and when it moved away it took her finger with it. From then on she usually wore gloves with a false wooden finger. By the time she was 16 she was so beautiful songs were being written in her honor. She had fallen in love with a young soldier but he went off to fight and was presumed dead so when the dashing 24 year old Duke of Gordon asked for her hand she said yes. It was on her honeymoon with the Duke that Jane received a letter from her lost love asking for her hand in marriage. She fainted upon reading it.

Their marriage quickly proved to be a loveless one. Jane's first son was born around the same time as a mistress gave birth to her husband's bastard. They were both named George, “My George and the Duke’s George.” The Duke continued to have affairs and Jane, never to be outdone, had some of her own, notably Henry Dundas, William Pitt's best friend. She threw lavish parties, never hid her Scottish brogue, and was known to proudly wear her tartan despite them being outlawed. Rock on, Jane. King George was said to have been a big fan of hers, which is probably why she got away with sporting the tartan.

As for politics, well, Jane fought dirty. During the 1780 election she even kidnapped a man and locked him in her cellar to secure the seat for a friend of hers. She hated the success and popularity of the parties Georgiana threw in celebration of the Whigs and attempted to create the Tory versions. Pitt, seeing the influence Georgiana had on the popularity of candidates, happily allowed Jane to throw parties in his honour in hopes of the same success. During the regency crisis she came close to usurping Georgiana as the prime social hostess and even looked like she would replace her as queen of the ton. Jane smugly invited Georgiana and Harriet to the House of Commons to listen to speeches after a Whig defeat and relished in their curt refusal. She had won this round. But unfortunately for her, no one can outdo the Duchess of Devonshire.

Despite the unhappiness of her marriage, Jane loved her status as a duchess and became infamous for seeking the best marriages for her children. Of her five daughters she was able to marry three to dukes. She even took one of her daughters to Paris to try and secure her a marriage with Empress Josephine's son. She may have been a gold-digger for her children but she loved them dearly. Her letters about missing her eldest son, George are heart-wrenching. It is George who is painted with her in her portrait by Romney in the Scottish National Gallery.

After being separated from her husband for years the couple finally divorced in 1805. She spent the remainder of her lonely years fighting with him over receiving the full annuities he promised her. She died in London in 1812 and her body was laid to rest in her beloved Scotland.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Favorites


Joshua Reynolds, Charles Coote, 1st Earl of Bellamont, 1773

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chatsworth: The Chapel

The room that has had the least alteration over the years at Chatsworth is the chapel. In this amazing example of baroque architecture Georgiana said her daily prayers to appease her mother. I'm sure the alter has witnessed many desperate prayers for sons. But what an amazing place to say your private prayers in! The walls are covered with cedars carvings and the brushwork of Louis Laguerre. The ceiling, like the one in the great hall, also contains a Laguerre mural. It shows Christ in Glory and is done in muted tones (compared with that of the hall) of brown which compliment the rich reddish tones of the cedar. The centerpiece of the room is the grand altar, carved out of Derbyshire Alabaster. The allegorical figures of Faith and Justice flank a painting of Doubting Thomas at the top of the altar. Exquisitely carved garlands and drapery is part of the sculpture decoration. For the best view of this magnificent stonework there is a cedar balcony on the opposite end of the room. The Cavendish family flag with the heads of three harts hangs on the balcony.

The most breathtaking aspect of the chapels is the how the murals meld with the architecture. The paintings form trompe l'oeil's so it is difficult to determine whether a pillar on the balcony is real or part of the painting. My favourite aspect of the room was groups of angels painted in the corners of the ceiling. They are executed so perfectly that they appear to be sitting on the rafters. Unfortunately photographs are unable to capture this on film and mine are blurry due to lack of flash to protect the amazing artwork. To grasp the full effect of the chapel one must visit it in person. However, I believe in the upcoming movie they depict Georgiana's marriage being in this very chapel (which it wasn't) so it's beauty will hopefully be captured on film.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chatsworth Exhibit Preview

Cassandra made it to the exhibition on Georgiana at Chatsworth and has been nice enough to share some of her pictures! She apologized for them being slightly blurry but as you can probably tell from my Chatsworth posts, mine are all blurry from my lack of flash as well. I'm actually notoriously anal-retentive when it comes to flash on artwork... But I digress, check out her photos out for a preview and become as jealous as me!

The Colors of Politics

As Caroline Weber theorizes in her amazing book, Queen of Fashion, the vogue du jour contained greater meaning and had a greater effect in the 18th century than it does today. Weber goes as far to hypothesize that it was Marie Antoinette's wardrobe that had a monumental effect in her fall from grace and gives great evidence to support her theory. On the other side of the channel, Georgiana was just as much of a fashion icon and her influences had similar effects in society. Fashion played a significant part in politics as well. In a time where television was not there to force politics into the faces of the countrymen, fashion, and more specifically color.

So what palette was was appropriate for your wardrobe?

If you were a supporter of the Whig party, you could show your support in ensembles of blue and buff. These colors graced the uniforms of the American revolutionaries and were adopted by the Whigs who commiserated to the colonists' plight under King George.

If your sentiments tended to favor the Tory party, then another fashionable color option was laid before you. Green was their color of choice and was publicized in portraits of loyal Tories such as Banstre Tarleton.

The Duchess Roundup

Apparently both Amanda Foreman and Kiera Knightly are just as upset at the confusing Diana references in the trailer as we were! The author says it's a "bad joke" The Telegraph, The Times

The lucky author of this article already saw the flick and promises both a hot-mess drunken scene from our duchess of partying (yay!) and...a spoiler I just deleted so you can read it for yourself. Not historically accurate per se, but enticing?. The Scotsman

Amanda Foreman found Georgiana to be a great mascot of twenty-something ladies when she was a twenty-something writing the book; but if she was writing the book now she says she would go the direction the film takes. Aww, but I love that version of her Grace! The Times

Georgiana and Bess burping at the dinner table? MTV UK

Let's hear from the director. The Independent

*UPDATE*

The Duchess.co.uk added new videos on the story, locations and costumes. Complete with lots of movie clips and interviews.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gossip: Lack of Photo Shoots

We are at a loss:

Lauren:
I think the Duchess promo ppl are fools for not organizing a MA-esque photo shoot with Vogue

fools.
Me: I know!!!
or at least Vanity Fair
Lauren: Hell even Elle. Just put something out there
Me: Thats what they did with Star Wars ep 1, both Van Fair and vogue! they were awesome
and that was Star Wars!

Close but No Cigar

The new cover for Telegraph Magazine as alerted to by Mythosidhe and the Costumer's Guide

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tart of the Week: Lady Diana Beauclerk



The original Lady Di was this tart. Born Diana Spencer to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough in 1734, the young Diana showed an affinity for art. With the luck of being born into one of the grandest families, the young Diana was more than a passing acquaintance with Joshua Reynolds, a family friend.

When she was 23 she made an advantageous marriage to Frederick, Viscount Bolingbroke. Frederick, or 'Bully,' as he was known wasn't exactly looking to get married at that time, he being 23 as well. While walking with Di in the pleasure gardens he jokingly proposed to her and then before he knew it, Frederick was married On the condition of being married, the viscount insisted on keeping his bachelor lifestyle; basically pretending Di didn't exist except to give him heirs. He partied, gambled, slept with many women, and racked up huge amounts of debt. There are also rumors of him having a violent nature. Di distracted herself by becoming a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte.

It was only so long that Di could handle her miserable marriage. Neither party was happy so she took the initiative to solve this problem. She had an affair with Topham Beauclerk. Beauclerk was a friend of Dr Johnson and was notoriously...stinky. It was once reported of him that he was so filthy he generated vermin. Either way, Di fell in love with him or maybe just saw him as a convenient means of securing a divorce, although it meant becoming a social outcast. When Frederick found out about her adultery he immediately filed for divorce, making the both of them happy. Divorces were unusual (despite the frequent adultery) due to their expense and hassle. Bolingbroke's passed in a month; two days later Diana married Beauclerk.

Despite her social ostracism from respectable society Di was a permanent fixture in the Devonshire House Circle. She had four of Topham's children and began to hone her artistic skills. She illustrated a number of books including one of Horace Walpole's. But of course more gossip-worthy scandal followed into her next marriage. In Brady-Bunch style, one of her sons with Frederick starting a relationship with one of Beauclerk's daughters. Other from that, the remainder of Di's life was happy until her husband's death in 1780. After Topham's death she lived quietly until her own death in 1808.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chatsworth: The Great Dining Room

The most beautiful of the dining rooms at Chatsworth is also the least used. On the walking tour of the house, the dining room takes many visitors breath away but is used for little else. Upon entering the first thing everyone remarks upon is how incredibly large the room is. Baroque details appear in aspects such as the ceiling or picture frame but do not overwhelm. The walls have seen many colors through the years but are now a rich red which matches the carpet. The current duke and duchess picked this silk wallpaper out and I think it does well to emphasize the room's size and majesty. On the walls hangs part of the family's collection of portraits, including some Van Dycks. The light fixtures on the walls come from Devonshire House before it was demolished and now light room for its many visitors. Many yards of fabric drape the floor-length windows. In the center of the room sits the white marble fireplace, flanked by two classic statues. On the mantel sits a gilded mirror that captures the whole room so clearly you could mistake it for a window.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie Review: Perfume

Go rent it.

I wish I could just leave it at that, but I'm a blabbermouth by nature and I don't think many people will be convinced. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer begins with the unfortunate Dickens-like character's birth and follows his unfortunate tale with bits of dark humor. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was born in 1738 in a fish market in Paris with absolutely nothing except the most acute sense of smell. The blessing serves him well but doesn't move him until he smells the best, most wonderful, alluring scent in the world. After loosing the scent, Grenouille becomes obsessed with possessing and keeping the scent, no matter what the cost.

Acting: awesome. Costumes: average. Art Direction: absolutely AMAZING! If you are looking for something different or something to watch with non 18th century buffs I would recommend this movie. Actually, I am recommending it anyway because it's overall good quality. I will also note that the movie is based on the book by Patrick Suskind and probably became popular when it became public knowledge that it was Kurt Cobain's favourite read. What can I say, the man had a taste for the dramatic.

Marriage a la Mode en Complete

To view the complete series of William Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode the links have been provided below.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mozart Moment

I've always had a crush on the idea of the Queen of the Night from Mozart's The Magic Flute. Evil queen seeking vengeance in hot 18th century finery...what's not to like?

Mythosidhe just put up this great post alerting me to the Magic Flute Diaries, which I now have to get my paws on. Her post also has a discovery about who the character is based on which I found so incredibly interesting.

Marriage a la Mode, Part 6: The Lady's Death


Alas! All good things must come to an end, and so it is here that Hogarth concludes his painted tale of a fashionable marriage.

When we last saw the couple, the Earl was dying by the hands of his wife's lover, the lawyer, Silvertongue. Now it appears that the lover has been found guilty of his crime and was hanged. His dying speech lies at our mistress' feet. Speaking of dying, she doesn't look too good either! In her despair over her lost love, the lovely wife had ordered her daft servant to fetch her laudanum so that she may do away with herself. Her lost love being Silvertongue, not her Doherty-looking husband, the earl. Her suicide is here discovered, in the moments before her death. While the poor mentally-challenged servant is punished for his fatal error, the nursemaid brings the couples' only child, a daughter, to bid farewell to her mother. The child itself is rather sickly. It seems to have caught syphilis from one of its parents, as indicated by the black spot on her neck. She also has the misfortune of being crippled; probably due to rickets: the children's version of gout. While she kisses her mother one last time her grandfather slips his daughter's wedding ring off her finger before she goes all stiff. Suicides' possessions were forfeited to the state, so he has to make sure he gets what is left of her wealth. The deeper symbolism here ultimately describes the father's lack of compassion and guilt in his daughter's untimely death. While her soul slowly drifts into the hands of the devil, her own father is still only thinking of the money which she can bring him. But what money? The splendor of her atmosphere seems to have gone by the time of this last edition. It appears that the finery that once surrounded the countess has been replaced with a quaint little house on the Thames. Cobwebs decorate the space instead of gilded edges and curtains.

Some reoccurring themes once again appear in this painting. The art on the wall, as always, leaves clues as to what else is happening in the scene. Instead of the rich Italian masters, the walls are now graced with Dutch genre scenes. These were popular market paintings in the 17th century, but not suitable for a wife of a peerage. They depict the poorer classes being amused by simple things; which also references the dim-witted servant. Another reoccurring theme seen here is that of the dog. This dog, is unlike the others, it is a skin and bones street dog who is taking advantage of the the commotion to steal food (a pig's head) off the table. The symbolism isn't that deep here. The family is now poverty-stricken and has resorted to less-than-stellar food.

To finish this circle of sad events Hogarth reminds us of the first scene in which the marriage was formed. A family tree was displayed by the earl's father to indicate his intentions for the marriage. Now, the only legitimate child of the couple is a daughter, severing the growth of the family and marking it's untimely end. Even the Countess' greedy father did not gain wealth from the match because his daughter's suicide forfeits all of her possessions to the state. The loveless match created with no respect to the peoples involved has sown exactly what was planted in it: greed, stupidity, and misfortune. Nothing good was produced from the foul seed. As always Hogarth makes his point in his very decided and opinionated manner. Fashionable marriages were common and usually had disastrous results. Two easy examples of this is both Marie Antoinette and Georgiana's marriages. Hogarth's opinion is delivered alongside his great humor but the message, however exaggerated, is not to be made light of. It is from his satires in paint and print that we have discovered much about 18th century culture. Marriage a la Mode is one of the more historically significant of Hogarth's works because it criticizes the age-old tradition of arranged marriages and perhaps aided in it becoming unfashionable.


Marriage a la Mode, Part 1
Marriage a la Mode, Part 2
Marriage a la Mode, Part 3
Marriage a la Mode, Part 4
Marriage a la Mode, Part 5

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Life's a Ball So Get up on the Dance Floor

I have been scouring for the September issue of Vogue ever since Lady Georgianna posted about there being an article about The Duchess in it. Although I'm going to have to wait a little longer for British Vogue I was able to get my paws on the insanely thick American version today.

Despite Knightly being on the cover, there is no interview with the star of the movie, just a fashion shoot of her in Berlin. However, there is a great article Amanda Foreman wrote to publicize the film. In it, Foreman gives a summary of her Grace, strangely not highlighting her fashion-history as much as I would have thought. She also discusses some of her personal life, the creation of the biography, and the process of selecting a script for the movie. In true Foreman style, she melds these all perfectly, for a great article. I'd be curious to get some insight about the article from a regular Vogue reader unfamiliar with the fabulous duchess. It was great to read about the many scripts Foreman rejected before arriving with the for the film. The screenwriters seemed to have made the contemporary celebrity connection but taken it too far:

"What did incense me, however, was the script's seeming obsession with making Georgiana appear like Paris Hilton: spoiled, self-promoting, and cretinously stupid...A few months later another version arrived. This time, Georgiana had graduated from Paris, the showoff Party Girl, to Britney, the Bodice-Ripping Boozer whose downward spiral had the whiff of tragicomedy."

Yay for not letting writers murder Georgiana! But on a different note. Lauren and I have made contemporary comparisons of certain celebrities with certain 18th century celebrities many times. Lauren found that this quote about Georgiana could have applied to the crazy Miss Spears, otherwise I wouldn't allow any Britney/Paris/Georgiana comparisons. But what do you think? If you had to choose a modern equivalent of her Grace, who would that be?

Movie Review: Jefferson in Paris

Jefferson in Paris chronicles Thomas Jefferson's time in Paris as Ambassador, his relationship with Maria Cosway and the his slave, Sally Hemmings.
Nick Nolte's (Jefferson) acting is flat throughout the whole movie which makes it boring and not very convincing. I enjoyed the parts where he read from his letters on living in France because they provided some good insight into the king and queen and their court. Now I want to get my hands on his letters. Luckily, other actors made up for Nolte's lackluster performance. Thadie Newton (Sally Hemmings) and Greta Scacchi (Maria Cosway) do well in their roles.
The art direction and script gives one the idea of a miniseries rather than a full-fledged box office film. But what makes this movie worthwhile is the costume, hair and makeup. They are breathtaking. Every time Marie Antoinette appeared, she wore a costume based on one from a Vigee-Lebrun portrait, to great effect. I made the graphic to the right for comparison. There was so much attention to detail with the hair and costume that the movie is good for an aesthetic journey into 18th century France. In fact, I would recommend this movie only for the amazing costumes. The rest is not worthwhile. Here are some clips below of the fabulous costumes.



Photobucket collection of costumes

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tart of the Week: Kitty Fisher


The most notorious English courtesan of the 18th century would undoubtedly be Kitty Fisher. Catherine Maria Fisher's early life remains a mystery; and like any classy lady, so does her year of birth. She did get her start as a milliner but the life of classy prostitute was just too tempting. She took a pride in her work and she did it well. When the famous lover Giacomo Casanova came to England he was "fortunate" enough to meet Kitty,

...the illustrious Kitty Fisher, who was just beginning to be fashionable. She was magnificently dressed, and it is no exaggeration to say that she had on diamonds worth five hundred thousand francs. Goudar told me that if I liked I might have her then and there for ten guineas. I did not care to do so, however, for, though charming, she could only speak English, and I liked to have all my senses, including that of hearing, gratified.
You could say Kitty had an appetite for the finer things in life. Literally. Once she had eaten a thousand-pound banknote on her bread and butter. Yes, Miss Fisher was at the forefront of celebrity in 18th century Europe. Like her French counterpart, Madame de Pompadour, Kitty was admired despite her unwholesome career and attracted a lot of press. Of course to get to the status of a high class prostitute, courtesans like Kitty had to do their own PR in the form publishing pamphlets to advertise their wares. Kitty F--r's Merry Thoughts seemed to imply that not only would you get a lot of bang for your buck (sorry couldn't resist that one!) but some clever and witty conversation as well. No wonder Casanova refused her on the basis of her only knowing English!

Fisher gained a lot of attention one day while in St James' Park. She was riding her horse when it reared and threw her to the ground. The courtesan was not hurt but her dignity was. When she fell, her skirts flew up revealing more than she intended too. At first she began to cry but then remembered herself and began laughing and called on a sedan chair to escort her out. Witnesses were dumbfounded, the press had a field-day. Songs, articles, and satirical prints recorded this accident, but was it an accident or a clever publicity stunt? It didn't hurt Kitty's career at all.

Another classic song that Kitty was immortalized in was the nursery-rhyme, Lucy's Locket which is sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle:
Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon 'round it.
Lucy Locket was a barmaid who didn't really loose her pocket but disregarded her lover after he spent all his money on her (Locket was also slang for vagina). However prostitutes were known to tie their pockets round their thighs with ribbon. Kitty wasn't only stealing away Lucy's lovers. She notorious stole Maria Lady Coventry's husband and the two had a nasty public rivalry.

Perhaps Kitty is most remembered for her her lovely portraits painted by Joshua Reynolds, among others. She was Reynolds' favorite model, just as Emma Hamilton was for Romney. In his portrait of her as Cleopatra, she is depicted dissolving a pearl in wine. Given her taste for riches (buttered guineas in fact) this portrait seems a fairly accurate depiction. The portrait he did of her holding a letter and confronting the viewers became a very popular print, released several times by different printers.

She eventually settled down in 1766 with an MP whom she married and gave up her profession. She settled down and enjoyed being the mistress of the fine Hamsted house, and was noted for being generous to the poor. Four months after her marriage she died suddenly and as was requested, buried in her finest ball gown.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chatsworth: The Painted Hall

One of the most stunning rooms in all of Chatsworth is the Painted Hall (seen here at Christmas time). When they were looking for a site worthy of Austen's description of Mr Darcy's home, Pemberley, Chatsworth was chosen partially due to this grand room. See cheesy youtube video below for a short clip of the hall.

The most noticeable aspect of the Painted Hall is the booming colours that engulf you as you walk in. The ceiling has a Louis Laguerre mural of the allegorical ascension of Julius Caesar. Laguerre also painted the upper walls (Sistine Chapel style) with scenes from Caesar's life. The floor is inlaid with black and white marble to further submerge guests into a sea of aesthetic overdosing.

The Hall has gone through many changes over the years, but the most notable and unfortunate has been the grand staircase. Of course it looks wonderful, but it doesn't really make sense. There is actually a doorway right below it and the stairs take up a good amount of space. In Georgiana's time it was actually a horseshoe set of stairs. These took up minimal room and set a graceful curve in a room full of sharp geometric angles. Between the stairways was the entrance to the grotto; take the stairs up and you were brought to the Great Stairs with its grand murals. For whatever reason, her son Hart destroyed these stairs and replaced them with a wooden staircase. He made many improvements to Chatsworth but this was one that even he regretted. He added in walkways to define the two-story height of the hall and awkwardly connected them to a bulbous stairway. When the 9th Duchess, Evelyn came to live in Chatsworth she set to work bringing the Painted Hall back to it's original splendor. She didn't include the Horseshoe stairway unfortunately, but she knocked down one of the balconies and replaced the stairway to something more harmonious and that is what we have today.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Up and Looking Fabulous!


As her awesomeness, Amanda Foreman promised a few days ago TheDuchessMovie.com is in full force and I could have cried when I saw playing cards introduce Georgiana. FINALLY!! I'm going to scour it and you should too!

Update! She has "Drunken Dress" just like in Coppola's Marie Antoinette!! And can I say thank goodness Her Grace will have some bonefied party animal scenes!

Update Again! So I really love this site. It has a whole discover section which is fun and it give you a better and more accurate feel for the true Georgiana. This is probably because it features excerpts from the book. Now I am getting really excited about the movie. I am especially excited that it will be out September 19th!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On the Duchess of Devonshire...

"[A portrait of Georgiana] in pastel, by Hugh Hamilton gives hopes to mothers of ugly fourteen-year-old daughters. This was her age in 1771 and it is impossible to guess from her lumpy face that she would turn into the fascinating creature we read so much about."


-The sassy and fabulous Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire

Dr Graham and The Sex Machine

There have been many quack doctors in the past but the most notorious of the 18th century is arguably Dr James Graham. It’s hard to even know where to start with this character so I will just introduce him as a typical celebrity. Like our contemporary celebrity doctor, Dr Phil, Graham didn’t entirely know what he was talking about, and people didn’t necessarily believe him yet he still had flocks of people flooding to his practice, mostly the rich and celebrities.

The Scottish doctor had a rather nomadic start. After going to medical school (notice I didn’t say ‘graduating’) he moved to the American colonies where he learned some electricity basics from Ben Franklin’s friend. He turned his tail and ran at the first hint of revolution and ended up in a variety of European cities, gaining a name for himself along the way. His specialty: sex therapy.

TEMPLE OF HEALTH
By 1779 Graham had acquired enough press and money and in 1780 he was able to open his infamous Temple of Health. It cost a crown for admittance and modest ladies were given masks at the door so their privacy was preserved and gossip could not be spread about infertility. Among gaudy gilded decorations and soft playing music, guests would listen to Graham’s pretentious lectures in his auditorium. This usually ended with a sharp electric jolt from their seat which was supposed to cure impotence and infertility. Graham employed lovely assistants as his ‘Goddesses of Health’ and they dressed scantily in Classical drapery. It has been rumoured that Emma Hamilton was one of these Goddesses but her biographer Flora Fraser argues against this gossip.

THE CELESTIAL BED
The Temple was a success and allowed him to build the Temple of Hyman in Pall Mall which in 1781 housed his invention, the Celestial Bed. The electro-magnetic bed was available to desperate couples attempting to conceive who could afford the £50 charge; about £3,000 today. Gilt dragons adorned the bed along with the saying (in Latin) “It is a sad thing if a rich man has no heir to his property.” To the sounds of music, a couple would make love on the bed while “magnetic fire” was pumped into the room. While the couple watched themselves copulate from the mirror on the bed’s canopy a tilting inner-frame helped position them in the best stance for conceiving.
Of course on top of using this bed, customers were urged to buy Graham’s special products to further aid in conceiving an heir.

CELEBRITIES
Celebrities were drawn to the temples like moths to the flame. Even ones like the Prince of Wales, who obviously didn’t need any help conceiving, were known to frequent Graham’s creations. It was just the “in” thing to do. After years of miscarriages Georgiana and the Duke went to the temple in hopes of producing an heir, to no avail. Other celebrities who were associated with the temples were Charles James Fox, Elizabeth Armistead, the Duke of Richmond, and John Wilkes. Mary Robinson’s reputation began to disintegrate after it became public knowledge that she was a patron of the quack. Not because he was a quack but because he was a sex-quack!

Like with most celebrities, what comes up must come down and this was the case with Graham as well. He went bankrupt in 1782 with the help of The Morning Herald and James Gillray’s campaigns against his quack-practice. Plus it probably didn’t help that his methods didn’t actually work either. He was imprisoned for debt and then went insane and died in 1794.


In this satirical print, Graham is flanked by his famous customers including Fox (center), Mary Robinson and Grace Ellitot (top)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Whig-Tory Lovechild

Has anyone been watching the Olympics? I have, and as I am currently watching Equestrian, and a certain name has caught my attention. One of the UK's horsey-Olympians is William FOX-PITT. The two rival politicians have united to produce this guy. See any resemblance? I don't know if he can trace his family back to either Charles James Fox or William Pitt but I couldn't help but share this discovery.