30 March 2009

...a bit gritty

" I believe I will dip my pink and white body in yon Roman tub. I feel a bit gritty after the affairs of the day." W.C. Fields

One requires a fine linen bathing dress, the same in a lace trimmed sheet to line yon bath for keeping the heat in, and Finally a hot toddy...

the lady blushes.

Juene Femoral au Bain, from the French School, beginning eighteenth century, Musee de Parfumerie Fragonard-Paris.

The infamous "La Pavia," Polish Therese Lachmann, once a Parisian courtesan-elevated to Marquise upon marriage, introduced Moorish flamboyance to the city with her inlaid onyx floors, marble and turquoise tile, agate-lined walls, solid onyx tub with gold trim and opal and sapphire encrusted taps. The tub had three taps-one said to be designed for flowing champagne. The bath was crowned with a ceiling and cornice of glass stalactites. Her amorous exploits are legend and La was considered to be one of the most exotic, fashionable and sought after "hostesses" in Paris. Her bedroom was something otherworldly...

oh! to be "La" in Paris.

La Pavia's salle de bain ( photo Ivan Terestchenko)

on to Marie Caroline of Austria's bathroom at the Reggia of Caserta. Marie Caroline-Marie Antoinette's sister, became Queen of Naples in 1769. Apparently this is the first bathroom suite as we know it today. Private and separate compartments were maintained for the bath tub and from there a door led into an area with two basins and a commode with flushing system invented in the 16th century. Marble floors, raised gilt decorations and a painting of the Three Graces decorate the bath niche. The carved marble tub with lion's heads, swagged drapery and elaborate egg and dart moldings is lined in gold-plated silver and the taps are gilt brass.

... like her sister,the ill fated Queen of France, Queen Marie Caroline's daughter, Marie Amalia, became Queen consort of France. Another daughter of QMC, Marie Terese, was mother to the second wife of Napoleon, Marie Louise. ...

"dear Marie."

the Bath Niche of The Queen of Naples

Jeanne Lanvin's Bedroom, Boudoir and Bath are considered to be so influential to French fashion and the decorative arts that the Musee des Arts Decoratifs has installed three of her rooms in their Twentieth Century Wing. Lanvin and designer Armand Rateau created the suite of rooms together. The color we now know as "Lanvin Blue" dominated the bedroom and her very personal collections were used to embellish the boudoir. Madame Lanvin, it is said, never felt nor wished to be a part of the clientele she dressed and felt comfortable only at home or in her atelier. One can thank Madame for the creating the colors Velasquez green and Polignac pink. Her rooms are the epitomy of femininity and sensuality...

"to one's own self be true."

Madame Lanvin's tub, Paul Plumet Art Deco Fresco

Legendary Elsie de Wolfe created a bath at her showplace residence The Villa Trianon that was larger than her bedroom. The Bath as well as the house with its period French Louis furniture was stamped with the ELSIE touch. She lived with her antiques- She bathed with antiques. Elsie adored receiving while in the bath, submerged in her huge tub and surely with her delicate curls wrapped in silk turban. I can see it now. The bath housed a Louis XV chaise percee, a painted marble tub, and a coveted collection of Chinese mirror paintings. Oh so modern carpets, wall to wall , laid over with rugs and a crackling fire kept Lady Mendel toasty...

"viva Lady Something Elsie."

Lady Something Elsie Mendel's Bath

Madeleine Castaing's family home near Leves could bring near tears to her eyes when reminiscing. "It was my grandparents home... A ravishing house...it has a certain mystery about it." According to this legend, she "seduced" clients with the "poetry I'm able to integrate into a house, the intimacy, the warmth, the tenderness." The rue de Bonaparte Castaing's last home,"just above her shop" carried the same mystery for her and the few granted admittance who visited her there. Her pink bathroom, very large, served as bath and Living Room; Madame watched TV here and felt it to be "extraordinary, but so badly put to use." The classically dressed bath with strong bronze appointments accentuate the pinkness of the room, along with the marble tub adorned by a black and white cameo, in the Pompeii style. The Charles X sofa in pink, of course, served to watch the television, basking in the filtering glow of pink...

the "Castaing Style" lives on.

Madame Castaing's lounge
"WW" Wallis Windsor. Much has been written and I have been smitten. I poured over the auction catalogs of the style icon years ago and marvelled at the objects she and her once Prince, once King amassed. Nothing could possibly replace what the two lost and elevated her to Duchess and he became the Duke. She was the titan, she-the leader, the best turned out. I think WW knew when to pour it on and when to go tripping lightly. Her bath, decorated to look like a tented pavilion, was created by Russian stage designer, Dmitri Bouchene. The bath is whimsy in the extreme- full of tendrils of lavender and the like with butterflys fluttering amongst the vines and flowers. Over WW's simple tub, a mirror and a sketch by Cecil Beaton done in 1936 hang. The colorful gouaches and prints on the walls surrounding the tub- from Bouchene, are New Year cards framed by the Duchess in simple gold leaf. Last but not least on striking lavender towels, etc. in script..


WW's tubby
(photograph by Fritz von der Schulenburg)

Our leading man, Fields may have been heading in this direction. Basically, One only requires soap.

Gal in distress - an original photograph, movie still

( partial bibliography. Diane Von Furstenberg, The Bath. Mary- Sargeant Ladd, The French Woman's Bedroom. Phillipe Daverio, Porcelains and The Industrious Aristocracy of the Eighteenth Century. Hugo Vickers, "A Wash with Elegance," World of Interiors. )

1 comment:

  1. o god, I love this post. I am just starting to check out all your blog which looks stunning. Thank you for so many comments on mine. I wanted to email you to thank you but couldn't find it. Anyway, more from me later.
    PS Had our summer holiday at Wrightsville Beach last year. My salty kind of heaven.



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