20 May 2009

It's my birthday soon, you know...

Fortunately, it's very easy to find presents for me. I wish for nothing more than this portrait this year:
1784, Oil on canvas by Carl Fredrik von Breda.

The sitter is Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta, duchess of Södermanland and later queen of Sweden. I was thrilled to see this portrait, because you always get the same two portraits of her in books et al:

Usually this (by Roslin, where she's wearing her wedding gown, which is currently at display at the Versailles exhibition)

and sometimes this (also by von Breda).

Hedvig Elisabet Charlotta was married to Carl, duke of Södermanland and brother of king Gustaf III, in 1774 when she was but 15 years old.
Carl wasn't exactly thrilled about the marriage but the king and his queen Sofia Magdalena had failed to produce any offspring at all so it was crucial that someone in the royal family carried on with the business.

Ironically, Charlotta's and Carl's marriage was fruitless until 1797 when Charlotta bore a stillborn daughter. One year later she gave birth to a son who died after only a week.

Carl wasn't quite the most faithful of husbands, which his wife knew well enough (as did everyone...) but she would stoically tolerate and/or ignore his affairs (and would at a time dryly confess that his temper was more agreeable when he was happy with one of his mistresses).
Hedvig Charlotta has made herself immortal by her journals which she wrote during the greater part of her life. They are written in the form of monthly bulletins and contain inside information on most important events that took place in the circles of the court and thereabout, as well as the fair dose of lighter gossip.
The 'diaries', as they're usually depicted, were written in French (and a very poor such, or so I've heard...) but were translated into Swedish and published in the early 1900's and is a veritable goldmine for historians and dilettants alike!

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta died in 1818, only months after her husband, and had stated in her will that the journals were not to be read until 50 years after her passing.

Anyway, if you find the above portrait to expensive for a gift for little me, there are lots of other yummy 18th c portraits up for auction at Uppsala Auktionskammare next month. Any of them will do, really!

Thanks in advance!

19 May 2009

Bla bla bla...

So I admit that I've been neglecting this tiny corner of the internets lately, but I trust that you have all survived my absence quite well?

I've not been completely idle all this time though: I completed my striped polonaise, which I think I've been hinting about in posts past, and wore it with pride one wonderful day in the beginning of May, together with a straw hat made from no less than three place mats:
This is the only full-figure photo of me in the gown so you'll have to imagine the en forreau-back and the overall polonaise-fluffyness of the skirt. The bodice was a bit too long to fit perfectly but it worked very well besides that. And, God, it's so pink!

I've learnt a couple of things since we last met as well, and most importantly:

Things I've learnt #1. Sewing a plastic headband into your wig with the purpose of making it stay better on your head may result in a) making the wig stay better on top of your head; and b) hair loss.


I thought it felt a bit uncomfortable, even painful at times, when I wore the wig, but I never imagined a pouf hairstyle would be very pleasant at all ('fashion before ease' etc.) so I didn't mind much. Until the morning after, when I saw this:I'm partially bald. Great.

Things I've learnt #2. Being an embroidery novice and insisting on doing your embroidery while on public transport will not make for a very agreeable result:But those are going to be a pair of hanging pockets which no one will ever see anyway, so I don't care too much really...

Things I've learnt #3. Spending a day at thrift stores and flea markets with your sister and aunt is a great thing (but I already knew that).

Today's finds, piled up in front of the general mess that is our living room:

A bobbin lace... thing, that I never, ever will learn how to master I'm sure, but it will make a good prop and it was practically free. Even the former owner got tired of it; it came with a tiny unfinished lace so that people can believe I'm some sort of domestic goddess.

...fabric, or curtains really. But I'm thinking about turning it into a polonaise that can be used for summer activities in the green grass and all sorts of wear-and-tear. Yay for cheap cotton!

...a pair of shoes that I'll try to recover using the method Bauhausfrau describes here. If I don't suceed, I've only lost a pair of cheap granny shoes that no one cared about anyway.

...Thackeray's Vanity Fair that I've been wanting to read for some time now, in three volumes from 1876. Oh, so fragile. Not the kind of book I can carry around in my purse all day, unfortunately.

...and a biography on a Swedish 18th century artist and architect that I know very little about, which I'm sure will change any day soon.

A day (and money) well spent, if I'm to say so myself!

Now I'm not sure what I'm going to attend to next: shoes, or summer polonaise? Stay tuned.