Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Stuart's Washington, daVinci's Mona Lisa and a question or two from Fowler

Stuart's Washington, daVinci's Mona Lisa and a question or two from Fowler

Sep 25th, 2001, 02:47 PM
  #1  
wes fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Stuart's Washington, daVinci's Mona Lisa and a question or two from Fowler

In touring Europe's art museums and galleries, has anyone noticed that it's impossible to find a formal portrait prior to the 1800's that depicts the subject smiling with teeth showing? Can anyone thing of one? Has anyone wondered why? Rotten teeth, I'm sure, since the toothbrush and its use in preventive care didn't come along until late in the 18th century.
Have any of you travelers made an observation as offbeat and puzzling and attempted to rationalize its cause? Just a question or two to perhaps divert us from the agonies of the past few days. Any comments?
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:10 PM
  #2  
chuck
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
nothing immediately comes to mind but as a long time lurker (two years or more) on this site, id like to say thanks to one of the respected regulars for trying to start a thread like this at a time like this.
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:15 PM
  #3  
Book Chick
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Wes,
When studying art history, we had a slide of a famous painting of a Dutch couple who'd just been married. The painting was used by the prof to illustrate the concept of nominalism, or symbolic imagery. We all couldn't help but notice that the bride (who I recall as wearing a green dress, as the Victorian custom of the white wedding gown was yet to arise) looked..well, pregnant. When we asked the prof about this, he said brides used to stand deliberately with their pelvises thrust forward to give the appearance of being pregnant. I always thought this might mean that fertility was such a desirable trait, they were trying to portray themselves as already being preggers. Still not sure. Anyone?
BC
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:31 PM
  #4  
Escritora
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Interesting, BC. I wonder--and this is pure speculation--if *all* brides were told to stand that way so that the virginal ones provided prophylactic (sorry!) cover for those who truly *were* pregnant?

But Wes, speaking of Fowlers--Hogarth's "The Shrimp Girl" (mid 1700s) at the National Gallery in London has her uppers showing, and nice white ones, too. By contrast, Ribera's "Boy With A Club Foot" (1652) at the Louvre has visibly rotting teeth. Of course, these are not formal portraits of aristos. But then, the aristos and wealthy clergy who sat for formal portraits often scowled or glared outright. Perhaps it was considered unseemly or undignified for them to smile as the unwashed masses did?
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:35 PM
  #5  
a regular
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Maybe because the purpose of portraits was to conveyed an image of authority, wealth and power and a smile would had not appropriately conveyed those?

I read somewhere that it was customary of the wealthy families in Europe to have sets of false teeth made to order in France (Sevres Porcelain). Apparently those were so perfectly crafted that in one occasion, the Queen of Spain Maria Luisa (daughter of Phillip V, wife Charles IV, had 24 kids, 14 of which survived; rumor has it none of them were Charlie's......) was asked one time by the Empress Josephine the secret of her perfect denture. To the horror of both Napoleon and Josephine, she took off the denture and showed them with extreme pride. The truth was that her real teeth were black and rotten, which was also the cause of frequent extreme mouth pain. To eased the pain, she was prescribed opium and became heavily addicted to it. Quite the lady, she was madly in love with the painter Goya, to the point that it is said that she was who ordered the poisoning of the Duchess of Alba, the beautiful lady that posed for Goya's Majas.

Oh, yes Sally, that was fun for a change......
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:41 PM
  #6  
Book Chick
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Escritora,
"The Shrimp Girl"?!?!?

Somebody painted a portrait of Sally centuries prior to her birth???? How the....?????

BC
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:44 PM
  #7  
JOdy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
BC....

YOU CRACK ME UP!!!!!!!!!!
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:51 PM
  #8  
Gigi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the first real laugh I have had all day, Wes! Glad to see you post!
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 03:55 PM
  #9  
s.fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
BC -- I thought I asked you not to tell the story of my previous incarnations ....
a regular -- I am not now, nor have I ever been Wes Fowler -- more to my loss than his
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 04:00 PM
  #10  
Escritora
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
BC, I can only surmise that Hogarth had a vision. Sort of like Nostradamus's...only shorter...
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 04:07 PM
  #11  
Thyra
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I was just reading about G. Washington's dentures having visible hinges at the corners. Yuk! Guess I can see why no portrait was ever done like that.
Also, I remember taking an art history class in college, where we scrutinized several pictures painted by the Lindbourg Brothers, for the Duc de Berry for his Book of Hours (an absolute masterpiece of late medieval art, and genre scenes)... and in one of the photos... a winter scene of peasants relaxing by a fire, while it was cold outside, in the painting the woman peasant has her skirt hitched up all the way to her waist and her "private, naughty bits" hanging out for all to see, including, if I recall correctly a somewhat lecherous looking chap next to her who is learing down at them.
It's one of those things you wouldn't notice unless it was pointed out to you, and between you and I, I don't know who the Lindbourg brothers used for their model of female anatomy but wowser, is it just NOT RIGHT.
This particular painting struck me as funny since most medieval paintings are of a religious nature, or of somewhat glorified idealized gentry.
PS. Bless you Wes!
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 04:08 PM
  #12  
Thyra
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
OK....yep I wrote one of the photos...please read that as one of the PAINTINGS.
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 08:12 PM
  #13  
wes fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
An idle mind is, if not dangerous, certainly a frivolous thing. With trip plans almost complete, I've little to occupy my mind other than a loopy question or two. Since our British cousins intend to join us in our latest endeavor against some vile creatures, I've gotten curious about some of Britain's current or former organizations, namely "The Scottish Society of Improvers"; "The Anti-Sweating League" and "The Broad Bottom Ministry". They all are, or were, honest to goodness thriving organizations, but whatever for? I envision "The Scottish Society of Improvers" coming into being to introduce weight loss programs for "The Broad Bottom Ministry" only to be thwarted by "The Anti-Sweating League"s opposition to any form of exercise.

Anyone care to venture an explanation of what the true purpose of these real organizations might be?
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 08:23 PM
  #14  
Escritora
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
According to Bartleby.com, the Broad Bottom Ministry was formed in 1744 "by a coalition of parties: Pelham retained the lead; Pitt supported the Government; Bubb Doddington was treasurer of the navy". I realize that doesn't answer your question, but it's the best I can do!

I can do better on the Anti Sweating League, though. It was a pre WWI labor organization The that "defined sweated labour as '(1) working long hours, (2) for low wages, (3) under insanitary conditions'". Your basic early 20th century leftish stuff.

I'm totally stumped, though, on the Scottish Society of Improvers. Anyone else?
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 10:10 PM
  #15  
John
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sorry, boring. The Improvers in the 18th C. were advocates of improved agricultural education and practice which had the (inadvertant?) effect of leading to the demise of the former communal grazing patterns in much of Scotland, and to the enclosing of the commons in England. Part of the Scottish Enlightenment, the idea fell conveniently into the hands of the colonizing aristocracy following the Highland Clearances - chop up the land, parcel it out to individuals instead of families or clans, loss of economies of scale and presto, a countryside of peasants. Can't make a living? Join the army or move to Glasgow or Belfast or America. Robert Burns may have lost his farm because of Improver ideas gang aft agley.
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 11:04 PM
  #16  
kalena
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hey..... you guys are just way too smart for me. Is smiling is a more recent cultural phenomenon? I know that Pacific Islanders tend to smile a lot, teeth or no teeth.
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 11:06 PM
  #17  
Leonardo
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
HI. I am the worlds most influential person. Peace out !!!!!
 
Sep 25th, 2001, 11:10 PM
  #18  
yoyoma
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
What are you talking about? DUDE! You know I am the worlds most influential person. I am George W. Bush!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
 
Sep 26th, 2001, 04:17 AM
  #19  
Ruth
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Wes, I believe you are right. I've read that the first portrait with the subject smiling and showing his or her teeth was a self portrait by Mme Vigee le Brun in ca. 1781. It was thought shocking at the time - far too affected!
But she continued to use the device in many of the portraits that she painted.

Vigee Le Brun had a fascinating life - for a synopsis see
http://www.batguano.com/VLBintro.html
http://www.batguano.com/catno11.html
 
Sep 26th, 2001, 05:58 AM
  #20  
s.fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Well thanks folks -- I just learned a lot about English history -- actually I knew about the land thing -- used to talk about it in connection with the industrial revolution etc.. in my "Technology & Human Values" class -- nice to have a little more context
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:37 PM.