Friday, April 18, 2008

Dirty Laundry; Jane Lockwood guest blogs



While I'm off gadding around with cover models at the Romantic Times Conference I persuaded my dear friend Jane Lockwood, author of Forbidden Shores to write a great post for our blog today! So please welcome Jane and excuse me if I get back to, the cover models, um I mean promotional activities...
Kate Pearce x



"Ma'am, I should like to be under your Man Cook by Way of Improvement."


Thanks for having me as your guest on Lust Bites!


I'm Jane Lockwood and I write dirty books. Dirty historical books, actually--and I blog with our very own Kate Pearce over at The Spiced Tea Party, where we spend quite a bit of time talking about how to write hot books that are also historically accurate. If you want to hear more about that, and you're attending RWA National in San Francisco, Pam Rosenthal and I will present our workshop Writing the Hot Historical at 8:30 a.m. (aargh) on Saturday, August 2.

The commercial break is now over--sort of. Because I'm also giving a workshop later that day on Georgian servants, which is what I've really researched--and strangely enough, the material overlaps. Why? Socio-economic changes and all sorts of good stuff you’ll have to attend my servant workshop to understand.


But during the period, a genre of art became popular--portraits of servants at work. Of course portraits of women in the kitchen, particularly surrounded by suggestive vegetables, had long been popular (wow! look at the size of her .... cabbages).

Possibly portraits were a sentimental representation of obedient, diligent family retainers from a mythical golden age of master-servant relationships. Servants, after all, knew the secrets of the house and their employers, and they were supposed to be loyal and discreet—but not always. During the sensational divorce trial of Lady Diana Bolingbroke (1734-1808), her servants testified with enthusiastic attention to detail about locked doors and the hair powder on one end of the couch and the mud on the other (from the head and boots respectively of her adulterous lover). Yes, it was the House of Lords; yes, they were under oath; but you get the impression they went a bit above and beyond the call of duty.

Some portraits had a very strong erotic quality; look at this lady’s maid (she's very well dressed in her mistress's cast-offs) eyeing you up while she washes her mistress' undies. Robert Morland's series of women doing laundry was wildly popular, reproduced as engravings for the discerning gentleman. He actually produced two versions of the woman ironing--this one with her eyes modestly downcast, and another of her staring brazenly at the viewer. Note how cleavage takes center stage in both pics. Think about it. A woman doing something with her hands and allowing someone to watch—it’s full of erotic possibilities. Maybe she knows she’s being watched … or maybe she’s pretending she doesn’t know.

Questions, comments?

http://www.janelockwood.com
http://www.pamrosenthal.com
http://thespicedteaparty.blogspot.com


Jane has also offered to give away of copy of "Forbidden Shores" to one lucky poster.

15 comments:

Lil said...

I never really thought about this type of art in connection with erotic suggestion or implication. Naive of me, I know. Eye-opening post.

Madelynne Ellis said...

Welcome to Lust Bites, Jane! Your servants workshop sounds fascinating.

Janine Ashbless said...

Argh - I want to hear more!
Not going to the RWA, sadly.

Madeline Moore said...

Interesting and, of course, obvious in retrospect - why wouldn't images of female servants serving be sexy?
This would be where the 'French maid' dressup kick began, non?

I'd like to say I glance up prettily from my housework to catch Felix eyeing me, but in truth I swab and swear like a sailor, garbed in yellow gloves and a bleach-ruined shorts set - although...come to think of it...I do actually catch Felix watching from time to time...but he's incorrigible...

Thank you for the post. The spiced tea party sounds like a parlour I must visit in the near future.

Portia Da Costa said...

Yeah, those images do make you wonder what's going on in the minds of the servants portrayed, don't they?

I'll be at RWA, and as I keep getting this recurring urge to write a hot historical, I'm certainly going to attempt to be up and about, and with at least some of my brain cells functioning, for your workshop.

Thanks for your post! :)

Kate Pearce said...

Just popping in before I go out for more RT fun to say Jane is an excellent speaker. i got to moderate for her and Pam Rosenthal (aka Molly Weatherfield) last year when they did a workshop-I think they've forgiven me for announcing it as the hysterical erotic romance workshop rather than historical...

Those portraits are so sly and sexy -I love the one of the maid washing the intimate garments.

Angell said...

I'm with lil - it wasn't something I ever considered, but then again, I've only been conscious of this frame of mind for the last five years or so, and haven't come across any artwork of the kind.

Very interesting indeed. Wish I was attending RWA.

Olivia Knight said...

Gorgeous images, very inspiring. I do like the sly self-command in both. Creeping inside their heads to write a story from their point of view would be fascinating. Do you use any of the pictures you find as characters?

Jane Lockwood said...

Good morning, lust biters!

Actually, Kate, it was the hysterical erotic romance workshop, particularly when I showed my overheads of why the Georgian era was so sexually screwed-up--in other words, where history does not help us.

One interesting factoid from my servant research that I've always thought would be, uh, useful: footmen were hired as matched sets (rather as you'd have a matching team of horses for a carriage) and the preference was for tall, good-looking ones.

Just a suggestion...

Kate Pearce said...

Matching footmen...
hmmm...
damn-I think I covered something like that in "Antonia's Bargain"

Janine Ashbless said...

I do like the cabbage picture too. It's so hopelessly pervy!!

Jane Lockwood said...

I'm a bit worried by several things, including the perspective, in the cabbage pic, Janine! Apparently the idea of a woman plucking a dead bird was also highly suggestive. Weird, isn't it.

But then a lot of men would probably have had their first sexual experience with a servant and that brings all sorts of power issues in to play. Who ends up the "bottom" in Pamela? The master, giving in to his servant's insistence on marriage, so horny he'll do anything to get her into bed.

(And I still haven't read Pamela. I probably should.)

limecello said...

Woohoo! Great post. I had ... haha no idea - never thought of it. I feel so naive :X

KimW said...

What an interesting post. I never would have thought about these paintings in this way before. Wonder what they were doing the night before the chores. lol

bamabelle said...

What an interesting post Jane! I would have never thought about how that type of artwork came about. I particularly like the one of the maid washing the undergarments. She just has that mischievious look in her eye. It makes one really wonder about the story behind each portrait.