Saturday, July 14, 2012

REVOLUTION IN A BOTTLE - La Fete Nationale 2012

Delacroix - La Liberte guidant le peuple

Eugene Delacroix painted "Liberty Leading the People" in the autumn of 1830.  It commemorates the July revolution of 1830 which toppled Charles X of France.  The woman carrying the French flag in one hand and a musket in the other personifies Liberty. In a letter to his brother dated October 12th, Delacroix wrote:  "My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work.  I've embarked on a modern subject--a barricade.  And if I haven't fought for my country at least I'll paint for her."  Bravo!

The Phyrgian cap the lady is wearing symbolized liberty during the first French Revolution of  1789-94.  Delacroix' painting was seen as a marker to the end of the Age of Enlightenment, as many scholars see the end of the French Revolution as the beginning of the Romantic Era.

Jean Pierre Houel - Fall of the Bastille
 "Bastille Day" (only used in English) as we Yanks refer to La Fete Nationale, is also called le 14 Juillet.  On that day in 1789 a Parisian mob took up arms and stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris.  This act of defiance against the Monarchy, led to the execution of King Louis XVI & Queen Marie Antoinette, the last King and Queen of France before it became a Republic.

  In May of 1789,  deputies of the Third Estate representing the common folk decided to break away and form a National Assembly.  On the morning of June 20th, the deputies were shocked to find that they were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General.  Fearing an attack by Louis XVI they gathered in a nearby tennis court (I love this part) and signed the "Serment du jeu de paume" - The Tennis Court Oath, a solemn oath "not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established". The oath signified the first time that French citizens formally stood in opposition to Louis--the King had to back down, having lost his "divine right", which now the deputies gave themselves, calling it "supreme state power"...oh how the Wheel of Fortune turns!  Deputies: 40 - Louis: Love.  Game, Set, Match = Third Estate/Common Folk.

And speaking of common folk, our new Socialist President Francois Hollande had a bit of a revolution in his own court this Bastille Day.  A family feud involving Valerie Trierweiler, his current partner, his former partner, Segolone Royal (what a great name, how did she NOT become "Queen"?), his son and a vindictive tweet hung over his big day like a dark cloud!  Apparently Ms. Trierweiler sparked a furore with a snub & a tweet saying she was supporting a legislative rival of Segolone Royal...along the way Trierweiler acquried the nickname "tweetweiler". She then disappeared from view for awhile--no interviews or trips with Le Presidente.  In an interview on Sunday, Hollande said Tweetwiler did not have any official status: "she will be present at my side when protocol demands."  And all the little birdies on Rue du Faubourg 'street' went "tweet, tweet, tweet".

Amphitrite, Rene Lalique perfume bottle
So much for the revolution, now for the "bottle".  No, not that kind of bottle...this kind...

"Nous sommes tous citoyens de la France" - we are all citizens of France said the legendary ex-patriate Josephine Baker. On a perfume site called "cafleurebon", a call was put out to friends from all over the world who had traveled to Paris, lived in France, citizens of France to recall their olfactive memories--the "scents of France"-- to celebrate Bastille Day. Since the sense of smell is the strongest, most unique sense with its power to evoke memory I thought this olfactive call to arms made real "sense". 

Here is my favorite from Pierre Benard from Osmoart:  What smells?  What scents remind me of our national day?  Childhood memories. It reminds me of the smell of gunpowder.  The fireworks which diffuses into the air and covers the other scents of the evening.  A fleeting smell, difficult to tame.  Accompanied by a unison that astounds us and colors that dazzle our eyes. It reminds me of a mother's perfumed breast.  One of our muses from which ultimately springs a bouquet of flowers.  A revolutionary fragrance which overthrows men.  It celebrates our motto with the words in the 'feminine':  Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".  And transmits them to the youth in the world.  A perfume with a metallic smell, like the blood flows in our veins like some color of our skin."  The Perfumes: Eau des Merveilles, Hermes/Liberty by Cacherel/Rien by
Etat Libre D'Orange.

Quintessentially French L'Origan, by Coty
 And the runner up by Denyse Beaulieu, Fragrance specialist and Blogger:  "But since the original Bastille Day was a brutal event, I'd pick Francois Coty's L'Origan, a punch-in-the-gut scent wrapped in soft orange blossom. It may not smell of firecrackers, but in its orange and white powder box, it revolutionized the cosmetics industry and spread a French sillage around the world." 

"Yes you can smell love because love is everywhere, between humans and pets, at the "Marche aux Fleurs" with vegetation and of course between people.  Women haven't complexes. They assume their sensuality and feelings:  they love 'love' and a good french lover knows to smell these pheromones of libertinage or fusion." - Didier Cholay, of CaFleureBon

Why love?  Because in French, "like" and "love"
"Marche aux Fleurs"
are the same word (aimer).  It is said the Romantic Era which flourished after the French Revolution was over by 1850, but I don't believe that for one second.  Call me

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