Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pompadour Pink: A Colour Fit for a King

As the Northern Hemisphere embraces autumn and prepares to bunker down for winter, we here in the Southern Hemisphere are heading into a beautiful spring. The weather has been gorgeous lately too: gentle warm days and long-drawn-out sunsets that linger on until evening. Spring always reminds me of the colour pink. The crab apples, the new season roses, the spring racing fashions at Flemington... It's the time of year when pink really comes into its own. {Above image of the Esther Geldenhuys rose; one of the most glorious pinks there is.}

I'm also pleased that one of the world's biggest proponents of pink, Madame de Pompadour, is enjoying a renaissance. A grand seductress, she deliberately acquired a number of lodges and châteaux in which to entertain the king. (Nothing like a hussy with money!) She then decorated them in a mood that was light and pretty, so he felt at ease away from the more formal rituals of court. I love that. A king who was at home in pink. {Image via the National Gallery}

So here, in tribute to Miss Pompadour herself, is a little ode to spring's most delicious colour. {Above image is an old one of mine from the Carnavalet Museum in Paris}

A design from Dior's 2012 Couture Collection.

Rose Pompadour, a beautiful, elegantly petalled shrub rose from Delbard of France, which has a classic Damask fragrance.

Dior's Pink Pompadour nail polish. {From Dior's current nail polish range}

An exquisite tufted chaise in a very royal shade of pink. 
{Still trying to locate source: will credit shortly}

The Salon des Mars at Versailles. More 'rose' than pink, it's still spectacular.

LA designer Windsor Smith's pink salon. Love the Gustavian grey in the kitchen. (I thought her kitchen was navy? Here it looks grey. It might be the light.) {Will also credit this shortly}

A Cindy Sherman-designed porcelain tureen, created for Limoges and inspired by the original design commissioned by Madame de Pompadour in 1756 at the Manufacture Royale de Sevres. (Sherman's image of herself as Madame de Pompadour was transferred onto porcelain through a complex process which required up to 16 photo-silkscreens.)

The gracious restaurant known as The Olde Pink House, in the old part of Savannah. Has anyone else been here too? It's superb. Each room is painted a different colour. We dined in the turquoise room. I couldn't stop looking at the tint. The unusual paints used in the period interior are just extraordinary.

A sweeter-than-sweet, Pompadour-pink beach house on Tybee Island, near Savannah. (One of the prettiest islands in the US.) This house originally belonged to a dear friend of mine, the interior designer Jane Coslick. She bought it as a derelict, run-down dump and worked her (very pink) magic on it.

But then she sold it and bought this one, right next door. She calls it '99 Steps' because it's only a towel-throw from the beach. The original cottage above is now for rent, if you'd like a week away on Tybee. When I was staying in Jane's house, there were Harley Davidson bikies staying in the pink cottage. They loved it!

Another pink house for vacation stays, the delicious Doll's House on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. I peeked inside here one day. (The dodgy photos are mine.) It was as divine as it looks from the outside.

The pink crab apples in the spectacular garden of the delightful blogger, architect and designer Virginia Blue, of the blog Glamour Drops by Blue Fruit – here.

A beautiful, delicate pink camellia in the extraordinarily beautiful family garden of one of the loveliest bloggers I know, Heide from Adelaide Villa here. (Isn't it wonderful how all the Australian gardens are now starting to bloom?)

One of my favourite roses, Constance Spry, found in the magical Parc de Bagatelle in Paris, where la Roseraie de Bagatelle (or Bagatelle’s Rose Garden) is home to 1100 types of roses. Wandering through here on a summer's day is sheer luxury for the senses.

Pink wisteria, the prettiest shade of wisteria. My mother dislikes this plant. She says it spreads faster than flu germs. But I love it. We're trying to find a pink plant to grow over our front verandah, much to my mother's horror. {This beautiful image is by ChrisAnthemum}

The pink salon in the former Ireland home of the late, and greatly respected designer, John Coote.

A page from Lonny magazine, which is now in its third year – well done Lonny! This room was photographed by Patrick Cline. Patrick always takes a gorgeous shot.

A gorgeous, 'Old Hollywood' look. {No source/Via Tumblr}

Chanel's beautiful new lipstick, Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lipstick, which was just launched this month. I love this colour - Secrete.


  1. What a beautiful post - such a happy colour!

    1. So thrilled you like it. Pink's not for everyone, but it's pretty in spring. Thanks for the lovely comment. x

  2. Dear Janelle
    Another lovely post! It's a wet spring day here in Canberra so I'm staying home and reading blogs and commenting. A happy way to pass the time. Your pinks are so beautiful. Haven't seen the pink wisteria, it does look lovely. Right now our mauve is in full flower on the pergola over the decking and is really spectacular. It's very old and is cut back hard all the time as it wants to spread right across the roof of our house and even across to the separate garage (your mother is right about that!). But we love it, so beautiful in spring. When we open the back door the scent is heavenly. The more we have it cut back (you need to get in someone ruthless with the clippers), the more it flowers. In the summer it provides welcome shade over the decking and of course in winter it allows the sun in. Love your pink roses, will try to locate them. We've several lovely pink climbers: Mme Gregoire Staechlin, a mid pink which I've trained to climb through Mme Alfred Carriere (one of Vita's favourites) - the very palest pink, almost white - together they look like coconut ice and will soon be in flower. Along the side fence there are a couple of Zephirin Drouhin roses, a lovely hardy mid-pink repeat flowerer. Also two Pierre de Ronsards, climbing a trellis at the back of the house. Along the back fence the wonderful Albertine with its masses of thorns but also masses of lovely scented roses - but not really pink. the buds are copper then fade to a kind of salmon pink and yellowy cream. You get all these colours on the one climber as the roses bud and then open. Sadly though it doesn't repeat. But worth it for its great beauty when it's flowering, it's also another great spreader with time. Until we lost some trees along the back fence in the drought, Albertine had clambered all through them and was a glory in the late spring. The thorns are quite vicious so it's a good deterrent for burglars.

    Love the pink chaise as well. Have you read Nancy's biog of Mme de Pompadour? Best wishes, Pamela

    1. didnt read your comment before I jumped in Pamela with the same question. A beautiful book as is the Sun King by Nancy.

      Your roses sound gorgeous!

    2. Have put Nancy's biog of Ms Pompadour on The Amazon List Pamela. Thank you for the recommendation you two. Two others you may like are:
      - 'The Sun King's Garden' by Ian Thompson (a look at Versailles)
      - 'Life in the French Country House', by Mark Giroud. (Giround is a well-known writer.) I bought both at 'Remainder' bookstores (where unsold books go). Both are very good if you like French history.

      Also didn't get a chance to reply about Edith Wharton. I bought my bios at The Mount, her home in Mass. 'The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton' by Connie Nordheilm Wooldrige - which was okay; not great. And 'The Sexual Education of Edith Wharton', by Gloria Erlich. Haven't been game to read the latter! I think there are lots more out this year for her anniversary, so will find a better bio.

    3. Dear Janelle and smr
      The biog of Edith Wharton I'm still/still reading right now is by Hermione Lee, all 756 pages of it (plus end notes etc) - lent by a friend. Quite interesting but could have done with a judicious prune by her editor. Appears to leave no stone unturned and no relationship unexplored. Also reveals she apparently had at least one plot (she called them donnees)and fragments for sensationally controversial novels that were never written. Would have shocked her readers to the core, as she knew. Interesting to read about her relations with other writers, including Henry James. Also interesting on her houses, gardens and travels - and her great humanitarian contributions to the refugees of France and Belgium during WWI. A movie of her life would be very interesting and so multi-faceted (her own imperious eccentricity and gifts, the difficult mother, mad husband, the lover, Henry James, Bernard Berenson, the war, her travels and houses, contrasts between US of the time and France etc). Would love to see The Mount! Did you take any pics (house and or garden)you can publish on blog? Have been to Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, a very beautiful garden designed by her niece Trix Farrand.
      Yes, agree, Sun King is wonderful too. I'm a Mitford tragic so have virtually all Nancy's books and plenty of other Mitford biogs and vols of letters. Likewise Evelyn Waugh - he can still make me laugh out loud, especially his first, Decline and Fall, even though I've reread often. Tks for book recommendations above, Janelle.
      Roses are wonderful, and so hardy. During the drought when many of our other plants and trees died, all the climbers, the David Austins and even the French old fashioneds survived. A friend lost her back garden during the Canberra bush fire. Then discovered later that the most of the rose bushes had risen from the ashes! Best wishes, Pamela

  3. I luff pink. It's always so cheerful and soothing.

    It's 4.10 pm here and I have to start getting ready in increments for a dinner out at 6.30pm

    Fingers and toes the baby sleeps x

    1. Hope dinner was lovely, and baby nodded off. Don't know how you juggle everything? You are such a Superb Mum. xx

  4. Thank you for the mention! I'm very flattered that you thought my amateur photo good enough to include - I hadn't realised until I started the blog how many out of focus photos I took.....I need you to give me lessons!

    Pink Wisteria - just beautiful, but I have a major (inherited) problem with wisteria at our house. It pops up everywhere, including the middle of the lawn, so I definitely would approach planting it with caution. My favourite pink rose is Pierre de Ronsard, so pretty x

    1. Don't worry. My pix are out of focus lately too. I can't be bothered using a tripod, or even putting the camera on Manual. But husband has been growling at me, so will have to go back to 'old-fashioned photography' soon!

      How does wisteria grow in the middle of the lawn? My mother said it grows like weeds in the Deep South - Savannah, Atlanta, etc. All over the trees. She hates it.

      Pierre de Ronsard is one of the princes of the rose world. xx

    2. It's from the cuttings, apparently. Someone must have dropped a frond somewhere in the middle of the lawn, and it took. Our house was empty for 3 years before we bought it, so it must have been someone cleaning up the garden and not being careful with disposing of the clippings.

  5. What a beautiful post!Love pink!The pink wall is really amazing!

  6. I adore pink. What beautiful photos! The chaise is stunning. Why the Dior model is wearing orange lipstick is a bit of a puzzle.

  7. I love this color it's my favorite. I planted wisteria over my pergola about 5 years ago and yes it took over and grew like crazy but I still haven't seen one flower bloom yet! I'm waiting!!

    1. Apparently you need to stuff lots and LOTS of compost under the roots before you plant it. Or failing that, put it around the ground (not near the bottom in case it burns) and then water it in well. Not mushroom compost. Home-made is best, but otherwise bought is fine.

      And they also need lots and LOTS of sun. If it doesn't get at least 8 hours a day in the growing season, they'll struggle to flower. And cut it right back in autumn. The better its pruned, the more chance it has of flowering. There are lots of wisteria forums online. They might have the solution.

      But the leaves are very pretty on their own! x

    2. Lots of typos in the top comment, sorry. Forgive me. Terrible example for a journalist!

  8. forgot to ask have you read Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford a real visual feast

    1. No, I saw Pamela's mention of this, and didn't get a chance to reply. It is def going on the Amazon List! Thank you both for the recommendation. Very grateful for all the insights. As most of the Library's readers are, I'm sure.

      Also, I didn't reply to your tongue-in-cheek comment about an assistant. Forgive me. I may actually need an assistant later next year, if you're interested? It's not set in stone, but I suspect I will be crying out for a competent organise come June. I'm frantically working on several new 'projects' - things you'd love (books, design tours, even an exciting new venture in the US) and will be thoroughly snowed under (even more than now) by June. The priority at the moment is the Garden Tour, so I've had to put everything on hold for 2 weeks - the Picnic book (now way behind deadline), family, etc - to finalise that. But yes - would LOVE LOVE LOVE some help next year! xxx

    2. PS You could probably even work from your home? Might be the ideal job, really. But, as I said, may not be til next year... x

    3. we will be in touch all through to June no doubt, so will see. It would be great.

      Saw your comments about politics on FF. I like your husband, did the political stint .I spent 16 years in politics (worked for two state MPs) .. I know he is still in the fray..god its all consuming isnt it ?

  9. Love this pink post Janelle.Stunning photos could have kept scrolling forever.We have a purple wisteria in our back garden which we were ruthless
    with last year and it has been a mass of glorious colour.I have not seen the pink version either.I am enjoying your posts so much.I can not believe that I only discovered your books a few months ago and stumbled onto your blog via French Essence.Have a lovely weekend what a change in the weather.xx Trish

  10. So nice to hear from you Trish. I'm thrilled you like the books. Vicki at French Essence is lovely, isn't she? I'm also glad that we've inspired you to try pink wisteria, although yours sounds magnificent. A severe prune seems to do wisteria the world of good, doesn't it? Thanks for taking the time to comment. x

  11. The pink wall is really amazing! Love Carnavalet Museum.

    ~ Herman Swan

  12. The older I get the more I adore pink and I must also admit to being rather partial to Madame de Pompadour stories....the two just go together, don't they? She scaled such dizzying heights yet paid the price with incredible personal always makes me cry to think of the death of her young daughter in the convent and of her own death so totally ostracised. Yet she really did have an incredible eye for beauty....I love the story of the garden that she arranged out of Sevres porcelain which was so realistic that old Louis was duped and bent down to smell the blooms. Life was so different then. Rx

  13. oh, I did a double take here to see my crab apples! How delightful! And I noticed this morning, the very first of my pink roses is almost, almost open. And I do agree, pink is the colour for early spring - followed by the blues of november with the aggies, jacarandas and plumbago. xx


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