1820 · Paris
A perfectly dressed, handsome young man suavely hands off a love letter to his perfectly dressed young sweetheart while he distracts the older woman: mother or aunt who chaperones. It is a wonderful moment that speaks volumes about aristocratic life prior to the revolution. What seems at first a charming and witty deceit also implies a world in which the pursuit of pleasure has become a way of life. In any event, the amorous back-hand takes place in a setting of utmost refinement: the room is a magnificent example of a Louis XVI interior with its massive mirror, elaborate moldings, carvings and furnishings, a harp, inlaid piano and cello. The characters are dressed to a degree, for a musical afternoon, that defies belief by modern standards: the lover who reaches awkwardly to get her precious missive is especially grand, with flowers and feathers in her hair, a dress festooned with garlands of artificial flowers, and rose-topped pointed silk shoes. Everyone exudes elegance and refinement in clothing, manner and gesture. All in all, a superb revelation of a long ago world, perfectly engraved by de Launay from Lavreince's incisive painting.
Nevill, French Prints of the Eighteenth Century. (Inventory #: 26615)