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What color were Catherine 2 s eyes?

The exhibition of the Moscow Kremlin Museums “The Brilliant Age of Catherine the Great. Court jewelry art of the second half of the 18th century.” And we continue a series of publications immersing ourselves in the era of Catherine II. Catherine the Great reigned for a full 34 years. The development of men’s and women’s costumes went through several stages during these years. The costume of the mid-18th century developed in parallel with the general art direction of the Rococo style (from the French rocaille – shell), which expressed the whimsical tastes of Russian court society, and retained its character until the last quarter of the century. Rococo demanded grace, lightness, sophistication, light, warm colors. The appearance of a courageous gentleman, who was dressed in light pink or bright red, became common. Under Catherine II, men from the upper classes followed French fashion. The trendsetter in Russia was St. Petersburg. Ships from France came here, bringing new fabrics, shoes, jewelry and haberdashery. A man’s suit consisted of a shirt, camisole, caftan, short pants (“pantaloons”), stockings, and shoes. Outerwear – a caftan – was made from silk fabrics, velvet, brocade, and lined with fur. The camisole almost completely repeated the cut of the caftan; it was visible from under the caftan, which was fastened with only two buttons. Under the camisole they wore a shirt made of plain or linen fabric with a frill and a straight cut. Later, shirts were made from cambric, trimmed with lace, folds, and decorated with frills. The shirt was fastened with small buttons made of pearls, gold, and precious stones. Knee-length trousers were made from the same fabric as the caftan. Towards the end of the century, the caftan was replaced by a tailcoat – a new fashionable clothing originating from France. Initially, the tailcoat was intended for riding, so for reasons of convenience, its floors were of different lengths. However, later non-military people began to wear a tailcoat; they began to wear it at ceremonial receptions. Typically, a tailcoat was made from velvet, cloth or silk; the most common colors were green, black, blue and purple. The shoes had a straight last; everyone wore the shoes to fit their own feet (the masters forced their servants to do this). They had high heels and thick soles. By the end of the century, shoes with a large cutout in the front and without heels appeared. Due to the thick soles and high heels, it was quite difficult to walk in such shoes, and in the 18th century many men took lessons in proper gait from foreign teachers. Stockings were colored and white, winter stockings were lined with fur. Complex outfits now hampered movement, and high-heeled shoes made it impossible for men to maintain balance without a cane—another necessary accessory. Especially in order to teach the court boyars to walk gracefully, dance teachers were invited from abroad. At this time, entertainment and court celebrations were given such importance that the skill of those dancing at balls approached the precise movements of professional dancers. A distinctive feature of women’s fashion of that time was solemnity. The main details of women’s clothing adopted from the West in the 5th century were the bodice, fluffy skirts, and swinging dresses. In the 40th century, the clothes of men and women often matched in color and were made from the same fabric, and the names of the shades of color were distinguished by their extravagance: “the color of newly arrived persons,” “the color of downcast eyes.” The corsage and “lacing” were the main means of changing the figure with the help of a corset trimmed with lace or braid, which was tightened at the back using lacing and. the knee with which the maid rested on the mistress’s back in order to tighten the corset as tightly as possible. According to the fashion of that time, the figure of a lady should be proud, slender and thin. Some ladies fainted from suffocation. A huge amount of material was spent on skirts and dresses (from XNUMX to XNUMX meters). The whole dress had dozens of frills, ribbons and bows, which required a huge amount of fabric. On special occasions, a large detachable train was attached to the dress. All dresses were floor-length – exposing the ankle to prying eyes was considered unacceptable and indecent. Under the skirt they wore a rigid frame – pannier, and later wire hoops. A train began to be attached to fluffy dresses, and a bustle (pillow) was tied under the skirt below the waist, which, coupled with the tight lacing of the corset, greatly changed the female figure. French fashion was replaced by English fashion in the 1770s: strict white dresses, modest trim, lack of lace, ribbons, and frills. On top was put on the so-called robe (from the French la robe – dress) – an outer swinging dress that served as the former summer dress. The robes of noble ladies were decorated with precious stones, chains, lace, ribbons, and gold embroidery. Stockings were worn in silk, paper, or wool. Pointed shoes were made of leather; for home use, shoes were made of brocade, satin and velvet. Fashion magazines appeared: “Fashionable monthly essay, or Library for ladies’ toilet”, “Shop of general useful knowledge”. From them they drew the necessary knowledge to maintain their appearance at the Parisian level. The Rococo style – a mannered style – was replaced by the classicism style, which is characterized by a fashion for simple lines, a rejection of huge powdered curls and braids. “Porcelain” skin was considered aristocratic; natural complexion and, especially, dark skin were signs of low or peasant origin. Both women and men applied whitewash liberally to their faces; in addition, the nobles powdered their wigs. To do this, some fashionistas entered the room where a servant had previously sprayed powder, and footmen used fans to “blow” the powder onto the wig. After this procedure, all that was left was to change the powdered clothes and go to the ball. Over the course of half a century, the Russian nobility had finally become accustomed to European styles and to the fact that all clothing was either imported from Europe or made to order in the manner of French or German dress. But in the sixties of the eighteenth century, traditionally Russian elements of costume suddenly not only came out of the ban, but also became fashionable. It is interesting that this happened with the accession to the throne of Catherine II, who did not have a drop of Russian blood: the new empress believed that it was necessary to cultivate national pride and a sense of self-sufficiency in Russian subjects. European attire did not fall into disgrace like Russian attire under Peter, but from the very beginning of her reign, Catherine began to dress in Russian dress, setting an example for the ladies of the court. “The Empress was in Russian attire – a light green silk dress with a short train and a bodice of gold brocade, with long sleeves. She seemed heavily rouged, her hair was combed low and lightly sprinkled with powder; the headdress is all studded with diamonds,” wrote an Englishman who visited the Russian court. Russian elements were introduced into the costume unobtrusively, serving as a form of national self-identification, while subjects were allowed to follow pan-European fashion. The main details introduced by Catherine were long hanging sleeves and a short train. Dresses from the time of Catherine II were often called “French sundresses.” The Empress sought to get rid of the excessive luxury of the times of her predecessor. She ordered the court boyars to wear identical suits to demonstrate the “unity of the elite standing over the nation,” and for women they now began to sew outfits in accordance with the positions of their husbands. In general, the requirements and regulations for clothing under Catherine II were much looser than at the beginning and middle of the 18th century. The empress’s uniform dresses became a striking phenomenon in the history of fashion of the 18th century. These dresses of Catherine II were an exquisite combination of French fashion and Russian traditions, feminine elegance and masculine severity. In this outfit, the Empress hosted parades, met with officers, or celebrated special historical events. In the late 1770s – early 1780s, the spread of the ideas of the French philosopher J.-J. began to have a tangible impact on costume. Rousseau, his speech against luxury, ostentatious external gloss and the idleness of secular society and his call for a simple, natural life in the lap of nature. The influence of English costume is increasing, due to the historical characteristics of its development, which is more rational and less susceptible to the influence of court fashion. The desire to simplify the silhouette of a woman’s dress began in the 1780s, when the entire width of the skirt was concentrated at the back, and bulky hose were replaced by a horsehair roller attached to the back at waist level. Striped fabrics are becoming fashionable, often combined with luxurious embroidery for formal dresses. Less formal toilets are increasingly being made from cotton fabrics in light colors. New trends became especially noticeable after the Great French bourgeois revolution of 1789. In the art of the late XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries, a new style found vivid expression – classicism, with its characteristic borrowing of ancient forms. Due to the inevitable evolution of style, radical changes occur in the costume. The exhibition was organized with the charitable support of the Joint Stock Company “Caspian Pipeline Consortium-R” Receive one of the most read articles by email once a day. Join us on Facebook and VKontakte. You can unsubscribe at any time. Catherine the Great was a sensible woman. She is responsible for many progressive reforms. The subjects respected and feared the empress, and, trying to win her over, called her an incomparable beauty. Some even compared her to Cleopatra. However, Catherine herself was quite skeptical about her appearance. Read in the material what Catherine II looked like and what physical features caused surprise and sometimes criticism from others.

Eyes of an incomprehensible color and a huge forehead with the “seal of genius”

Catherine II had a large forehead and a narrow, sharp chin. /Photo: rusnasledie.info Catherine II had amazing eyes. Few could say with certainty what color the empress’s eyes were. Some said they were blue, others said they were brown. Everything became clear after the historian Claude Ruliere said in his work that the Russian ruler had very beautiful eyes – bright, brown, with a blue tint. In addition, the observant man noted that Catherine has a fairly long neck, and at the same time she constantly tries to push her head forward. Many noted that the empress has rather rough facial features, more masculine than feminine. The woman’s large forehead attracted attention. Charles de Ligne wrote that this majestic forehead is slightly “softened” by a pleasant smile. He noted that Catherine had an irregularly shaped face: a protruding, sharp chin, which did not attract much attention precisely due to the height and width of the forehead. Many artists said that the stamp of genius is visible on this forehead. Catherine the Great herself called her mental abilities ordinary. She even wrote to Senac de Meilan that there were many people around with more developed mental abilities. The Empress knew how to listen and could compromise if she believed that the objection was correct. However, she was firm and stubborn when needed.

How Catherine could increase her height and appear huge

Short Catherine seemed simply huge to those around her. /Photo: i10.fotocdn.net According to historical facts, Catherine II was short. Then why do contemporaries describe her as a majestic and very tall woman? They said that she seemed to tower above the crowd. When the artist Vigée-Lebrun wanted to paint a portrait of the Empress, Catherine refused her. After this, in her memoirs, the Frenchwoman wrote that she thought that Catherine was huge, but she turned out to be small. The same artist noted that during parades, Catherine II looked much taller. And, for example, the Englishman Richardson wrote that the Russian Empress was well-built, proportional, despite her plumpness, and had a tall stature. What explained this paradox? The fact is that Catherine the Great tried to keep her head as high as possible and carefully monitored her posture. Since childhood, she has always stretched her neck and never slouched. Thanks to these tricks, she could visually appear taller than she actually was. What was required to inspire awe in his subjects.

Masculine or feminine

Contemporaries disagreed about whether Catherine II’s face was feminine or vice versa. /Photo: aeslib.ru Many of Catherine’s contemporaries found that her facial features were quite rough and masculine. For example, Claude Ruliere described a double chin and a large aquiline nose. The artist Evgraf Chemesov painted a portrait of Catherine II, which depicts a woman with heavy masculine features. Appearance seems pleasant, but not too spiritual. The portrait was criticized by Kazimir Waliszewski, who believed that Catherine on the canvas looked ordinary, bourgeois, and her face had a cruel expression despite her smile. Catherine herself had a completely different opinion. She was simply delighted with the portrait. To such an extent that the artist Chemesov was granted the position of personal secretary. Sir Richardson noted in his memoirs that Catherine has a pleasant and fairly regular face, but it is very difficult to say that it is feminine.

Painful obesity, migraines and colic: an ordinary woman, albeit a queen

Catherine II was a plump woman, but she tried to hide it with clothes. /Photo: static6.smi2.net Catherine II was a plump woman. To hide this physical defect, she preferred to wear long and very wide dresses, always with very puffy sleeves. There is evidence that when the empress had a seizure before her death, the subjects were unable to lift her up to carry her to the bed. It was necessary to remove the mattress from the bed, place it on the floor, and place the heavy empress on it. Contemporaries wrote about the plumpness of the Russian ruler. For example, the same Vigée-Lebrun, apparently offended by the refusal to pose, wrote very harshly, noting that Catherine’s face is still beautiful, but her body is incredibly plump. Charles de Ligne put it more softly, allegorically writing that the lack of a waist is compensated by magnificent shoulders. Catherine did not talk about her physical condition. But in fact, from early childhood she suffered from severe migraines, which were often accompanied by painful colic. The empress did not like to take medicine, and the doctors spent a lot of effort on persuasion. There were rumors around the palace that the queen tied a silk scarf on her head at night, and in the morning it sprinkled sparks around itself. The same thing supposedly happened with the sheets on which Catherine slept. In adulthood, the empress began to experience hearing problems – even the quietest conversation seemed too loud to her. My vision also deteriorated and I had to use glasses. In 1795, when Catherine II met with the Princess of Saxe-Coburg, she spoke very rudely about the empress’s appearance and even called her a witch. Nevertheless, a little later she said that Catherine the Great has a stunning skin color and can be the standard of a vigorous and healthy old age. In fact, the Empress was already quite seriously ill at that time, and only a year remained from the moment she met the princess until Catherine’s death. Nevertheless, until her last days, Catherine II amazed with her majesty, ability to control herself, and fortitude. Orlov made a stunning career not only because he was in a relationship with the empress. He is, first of all, a talented commander who tamed the formidable Ottoman Empire. Did you like the article? Then support us click:

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