Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun. Self-Portrait (1791). National Trust, Ickworth House, UK. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
By Nina Heyn – Your Culture Scout
When we think of the French upper classes just before the French Revolution, what comes to mind are those impossible panniered gowns, powdered wigs, rouged cheeks, and ostrich feathers. Which is indeed what the aristocrats of the time were wearing, but the winds of change were already blowing, at least in fashion and social ideas. Thanks to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and other social thinkers, the need for less artifice in life started to penetrate the upper echelons of French society. Rousseau advocated being closer to nature and rearing one’s young in a different way than the cold turkey approach of keeping children in faraway nurseries and convents, and having newborns fed by country nursemaids.