Gambling, Voyeurism and Washing Your Butt At Four In the Morning

Господа офицеры, быть беде,
Господин Полковник сел на биде!

Козьма Прутков

Messieurs Officers, trouble! The colonel is using bidet!

Kozma Prutkov

I am fascinated by the XVII century French furniture. It tells such stories! For example, look at this chair; looks like an ordinary chair with an awkward back, too low for a head-rest, and too uncomfortable for the shoulder blades. Would you figure out its destination? Let me explain. This chair’s name in French happens to be voyeuse. It is for those of us who prefer to watch. Some like to watch reclining, others, quite involuntarily, lean forward: it all depends on the intensity of action and the emotional commitment of the on-looker.  Apparently this one is for a very involved gentleman. I say gentleman because woman’s chair for the same purpose is slightly different; yes, women also like to watch, but one must take into account the XVIII century attire, a long dress would have to be lifted pretty high for a lady to sit astride on a chair, and what if she is kind of modest? Below is an example of the woman’s chair.

As you see the chair is significantly lower to allow a woman to kneel upon its seat. If the knees come close to the chairs back, the elbows rest on top of the seat, that may suggest an interesting posture; after all the situation does not excluded yet further elaboration when in her turn the observer is being observed; so, observing gracefully opens up a whole range of other possibilities. The other thing you need to know to appreciate this chair is that unlike the first one, style Louis XVI, it dates from the time of Louis XV and so, as if by accident, its shape invokes yet another piece of furniture, also introduced specifically for the ladies, the bidet. The first bidet was probably made for Madam Pompadour, we no longer have that bidet, but the descriptions survive. I could only show you this rather modest exemplar; whereas Madam Pompadour had a weakness for masterpieces.

You can guess now how a voyeuse designed for women could very discretely contain a bidet on the inside. The use of this fascinating contraption is illustrated below. You see that without resorting to a bath, not an easily available solution in absence of running water, ladies could wash that part of themselves that needed their attention most at the moment.

At this point I see it my duty to dump some of that bidet water on my reader’s inflamed mind to calm him down. The chairs I offer for his consideration were very common, and in spite of their provocative  name served the purpose of watching a game of cards about which the XVIII century was as passionate as the XXI is about sex. So wash yourself well before and after going out tonight and good weekend to all my readers!


About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
This entry was posted in Louis XV, Louis XVI, Madam Pompadour, Versailles Fashions, Versailles Furniture. Bookmark the permalink.

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