Whilst in Paris I visited the Louvre, it might come as a shock but the exhibitions at the Louvre far exceeded anything I’d ever seen, even at Versailles! The furniture and art were so well preserved, everything was pristine and as though I’d stepped through a time capsule. Yes Versailles was magnificent but parts were rather shabby, I was shocked at the conditions, particularly of the first rooms you viewed. Were as, the Louvre only displayed its best preserved ornaments and lavish furniture, making the finery of eighteenth century gentry easy to envision. Everything was polished and proper, in particular was Napoleon III apartments an exception portrayal of Rococo interiors. This is an environment I can easily imagine Georgiana been surrounded by.
Not forgetting that this accomplished museum had been the Kings residence, from the 12th century till 1674 when King Louis XIV moved to Versailles. Because of this the building itself is rich with fabulous displays of architecture, every crevice full of pattern which could be easily translated into prints or embroidery for my designs. The hall holding the crown jewels is a manifestation of pattern and decorative ideas, a designer’s haven! Not that this takes away from the dazzling jewellery within the room itself, these few jewels epitomise the prosperity of the time. If I could replicate even a glimpse of the glamour they radiate, my designs my well live up to the fashion ester and celebrity Georgiana was.
A note to anyone planning a trip to Paris and the Louvre, please get an audio as a lot of the displays don’t have an English translation!!!!!!!!! I later had to research the origin of many pieces id photographed whilst there, something I find acutely disappointing when in the moment admiring a piece of art.
I realise you also cannot be ignorant of other interpretations of Georgiana, and so with this in mind I’ve visited Chatsworth, which was one of the locations where the Duchess was filmed. Chatsworth has also been the home of 16 generations of the Cavendish family and where Georgiana sort solitude for several years following her exile. In the film we first see Georgiana in the grandeur of Chatsworth at her wedding ceremony in the Painted Hall, as she descends down the grand staircase to be married off on her seventeenth birthday; the scene is minimally lit by candle light. This lighting could be conscious decision as it allows the costumes to shine... literally! The jewels and the metallic threads on Keira Knightlys dress shimmer in the low light, a concept used for Princess charlottes wedding dress in 1816 (and as discussed in my Pride and Prejudice tackk). Yet candle or mood lighting could instead be a reflection of the desolate and hostel ambience to follow in the rest of the film, and subsequently Georgiana’s turbulent marriage to the Duke.
Notwithstanding, the Painted Hall is an exquisite location for this scene to be shot in; with its blooming colours, marble black and white flooring, and its powerful ceiling paintings depicting the ascension of Julius Caesar. It’s a vivid display of wealth, largely presented (in my opinion) by the rich colours and sheer scale of the room. Although quite different to how the hall would have been during Georgiana’s life time, it’s still a spectacle to behold and I believe the most impressive room in the House.
So, in its original form the great stairs came down at either side of the hall in a horse shoe like shape with a continuous balcony circulating around the room, therefore although the Hall in its current condition is majestic, a double staircase surely could only have taken one of Georgiana’s entrances to the next level.
The exterior of the building is just as imposing as the interiors, from the ornate water fountains to the glistening gold leaf window frames; which recently put the Cavendish family back 16 million in repairs, a part of this was adorning the south front in more gold leaf but boy was it worth it! The building glistens again with wealth reflecting the opulence within. A sweeping pathway leads to the stately home, taking you through beautiful landscaping; the sheer scale of Chatsworth grounds makes the ultimate crescendo to the magnificent 16th century building.
But what will I take from this experience? Well there’s the majestic Gainsborough painting of the Duchess at Chatsworth painted between1785-1787. In my opinion, this is the most well know painting of Georgiana, and is very informative in terms of how the Duchess was perceived. Here she looks sensuously fashionable with her hugely oversize hat, and the magnificent hair which she’s so greatly known for. Her dress looks rich in fine laces but is already beginning to adorn a more naturalistic form, with a neoclassic soft line and drapery. She also holds a rose which could be portrayal of her gentle and nurturing disposition. Likewise the rose could simply be an idealistic pose as a similar paint was commissioned by French Queen Marie Antoinette some two years previously in 1783. This idea doesn’t take from Georgiana’s character, rather it reinforces Georgiana’s impeccable taste, moving with the times she’s taking note of fashionable poses and painting styles. After all Marie Antoinette was the pinnacle of fashion during the late 18th century. This painting gives a great sense of character and fashion, to create an accurate depiction of Georgiana these ideals need to go hand in hand.
From Chatsworth’s as a whole I’ll enforce the majesty and stateliness of the manner house within my design, after all this was one of Georgiana’s homes. The building is sumptuous within its own rights, but by no means was Georgiana lost in its splendour! This is something I must be conscience of whilst designing. Note to self: Chatsworth is full of rich colours, my colourful Rococo interpretation of the Duchess will mean ill have to carefully consider my locations so there isn’t a clash in colour palates.