When I visited Winterthur Museum last week, I not only wandered through the peony gardens, but also saw the museum's newest special exhibition, Uncorked! Wine, Objects, & Tradition. (The exhibition runs until January 6, 2013.) There were a good many fascinating items to inspire a good many blog-posts in the weeks to come, and I'll start with the print, left.
While the three young people are all dressed in formal 18th c finery, most of us will recognize the trick these two girls are playing on the hapless gentleman who's enjoyed his wine a bit too freely. It's a trick that continues to be a riotous favorite at modern slumber parties and sleep-overs, and doubtless every generation is sure they're the inventors of it, too. The victim who has the misfortune to fall asleep first has his (0r her) hand placed in water; the resulting sensation inspires an automatic reaction. Acute shame and hilarity ensue.
The title of this print, The Curious Maids, tries to pretend that the girls are acting from pure intellectual curiosity. Still, from the caption printed below, I think they're pretty certain of what the outcome will be. I also like how the only thing that's been colored is the luridly blue water in the bowl - just so we don't miss the joke.
The Curious Maids (Les Filles Curieuses) In prime of Youth what Funny Tricks Are often play'd by either Sex! The Tales they've heard their Nurses say They put in Practice Day by Day. Forbear dear Girls! For Pity's sake Have Mercy on a Sleeping Rake! As in the Bowl his Hand you've got, You'll make him soon do –– You know what.
Above: The Curious Maids, byJohn Greenwood, London, England, probably 1768. Ink on laid paper. Winterthur Museum; promised gift of J.Thomas Savage. *Yes, I'm a Gemini, but this is the real reason for the double name.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.