We continue our eighteenth century theme with a trip back to the days of the French Revolution in 1789. For the two hundredth anniversary of the American Revolution many of the men's magazines had an appropriately themed pictorial, as exemplified by the Penthouse spread 1776.
Lui, as the principal men's magazine in France, was not going to let the occasion of the bicentenary of their revolution in 1789 go without tribute either but the extraordinary pictorial which appeared in their July 1989 issue made Penthouse's look rather cut rate.
Shot by British photographer Byron Newman the set presented a mixture of under-dressed aristocrats and equally under-dressed revolutionaries, posed in a series of tableaux that aped paintings of the period. The particular young lady in this shot is really quite magnificent!
Our aristocrats consist of two gentlemen and three ladies, one of whom is supposed to be the Queen's favourite, the Duchess of Polignac. Many pamphlets were distributed at the time alleging that she was the Queen's lesbian lover (although there is no evidence of this) although it does gives Newman the excuse to present this friendly looking group.
The costumes, wigs, makeup and set for this pictorial is a wonder and is in stark contrast to the barren and unimaginative pictorials in today's magazines. It must have cost a fortune!
The aristocrats' decadent reverie is rudely interrupted by representatives of the unwashed (and undressed) masses as the citizens of Paris take them prisoner. Amusingly, while the men cower, the women hurl brioches at the revolutionaries. The quotation almost certainly erroneously attributed to Marie-Antoinette of "let them eat cake" was is in fact, in French, Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.
Unceremoniously put into a tumbrel, they are led off to the Bastille, the anniversary of the storming of which, on July 14th 1789, was the reason for this pictorial, of course. In fact, the text, by eminent French historian Pierre Miquel, points out that there were prisons and prisons and decribes the maison de santé of Notre-Dame-des-Champs, a nursing home turned into an upmarket prison for aristocrats, provided they paid the exorbitant fees.
The prison our aristocrats appear in does not look too salubrious, however. We have seven lady revolutionaries and just one man but a pictorial with no less than ten attractive lady models is a splendid achievement in itself.
The second half of the pictorial abandons the aristocrats and concentrates instead on the lovely revolutionary ladies who are nearly all, quite literally sans-culottes. Here is their splendid leader.
This young lady carries a period accurate musket.
Several of the ladies sport the bonnet rouge, a form of Phrygian cap (identified in ancient times with Illyria in the western Balkans) which was adopted by many of the revolutionaries, often with, as here, the addition of a tricolour cockade. In fact, they are slightly anachronistic here, as the first recorded display of one in this context wasn't until 1790.
A cockade was very common on military head gear in this period and the one of the Paris militia, who were prominent in the storming of the Bastille, was red and blue. This lady is supposed to represent one of the guards at the Conciergerie, the prison that was the holding area for those guillotined during the reign of terror in the early 1790s.
White was added to the cockade shortly after the Bastille was stormed in July 1789, as that was the colour of the national flag of France until the tricolour was adopted in October 1790. So, again, the flag in this shot is anachronistic.
Job done for the day our revolutionaries celebrate by drinking and eating brioches! The little people are playing at being the aristocrats!
Really, this isn't a Seduction of Venus type pictorial proper as, apart from, some implied intimacy between the aristocratic ladies, the tableaux aren't really sexual. It is such a splendid production, however, that we couldn't leave it out from our look at the eighteenth century!
If only today's Lui photo features demonstrated a fraction of the style of this pictorial!