WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Safe Slang (and art) for Mother’s Day

WOW is a day early this week, but it’s Mother’s Day and I’m sure we’ve all wondered, “What Regency cant and vulgar slang is safe to use with Mom?”

Glad you asked.

First and foremost, do not call your mother, a Mother. In Regency slang, you would be calling her a brothel proprietor, the chief bawd, or the abbess. Instant trouble.

Instead, feel free to use any of the following slang. Impress your mother by enlarging yours – and her – vocabulary.

FAIR-ROE-BUCK ~ A Woman in the Bloom of her Beauty.

FRIGOT WELL RIGGED ~ A Woman well drest [sic] and genteel.

GENTRY MORT ~ A gentlewoman.

RUM MORT ~ A queen, or great lady. CANT.

RUM-DUTCHESS ~ A jolly handsome Woman.

RUM-MORT ~ A Queen, or great Lady.

If a thorough knowledge of Regency cant of positive descriptors of women fails to affect goodwill, consider showing her some of the portraits of French artist Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). She was the first successful female genre painter ever, and produced steadily throughout her life. Her favorite subjects were mothers and children, although she herself never married. Her portraits conveyed an intimacy and beauty not often seen in domestic paintings, likely the influence of her appreciation of the Dutch golden age painters.

Born in Grassé, France, she moved to Paris at age eight to live with her sister Marie Anne, who just happened to be married to storied artist Jean Honoré Fragonard. Under his tutelage, and other masters of their coterie at the Louvre (they lived apartments in the Louvre for thirty years!), she became an artist recognized in her own right by the mid-1780s. After the Parisian Salons were opened to women, she became a regular exhibitor, drawing the attention of and purchase power of the likes of Napoleon and King Louis XVII. She died in Paris in 1837 at the remarkable age of seventy-six.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Premiers Pas (First Steps), oil on canvas, ca. 1788, Marguerite Gérard

Premiers Pas (First Steps), oil on canvas, ca. 1788, Marguerite Gérard

La Leçon de Piano (The Piano Lesson), oil on canvas, ca. 1785-1787, Marguerite Gérard

La Leçon de Piano (The Piano Lesson), oil on canvas, ca. 1785-1787, Marguerite Gérard

La Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, ca. 1795–1800, Marguerite Gérard

La Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, ca. 1795–1800, Marguerite Gérard

La Visite (The Visit), oil on canvas, ca. 1810, Marguerite Gérard

La Visite (The Visit), oil on canvas, ca. 1810, Marguerite Gérard

Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Maternité (Motherhood), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

La Lecture d'une Lettre (Reading a Letter), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

La Lecture d’une Lettre (Reading a Letter), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Madame de Staël et sa fille Albertine (Madame de Staël and her daughter Albertine), oil on canvas, 1803–1808, Marguerite Gérard

Madame de Staël et sa fille Albertine (Madame de Staël and her daughter Albertine), oil on canvas, 1803–1808, Marguerite Gérard

Mutterschaft (Maternity), ca. 1800, Marguerite Gérard

Mutterschaft (Maternity), ca. 1800, Marguerite Gérard

Portrait de la Maréchale Lannes et ses Enfants (The Dutchess of Montabello with her Children), oil on canvas, 1818, Marguerite Gérard

Portrait de la Maréchale Lannes et ses Enfants (The Dutchess of Montabello with her Children), oil on canvas, 1818, Marguerite Gérard

Une famille dans un jeu intérieur avec un chien (A famiily in an interior playing with a dog), oil on canvas, date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

Une famille dans un jeu intérieur avec un chien (A famiily in an interior playing with a dog), oil on canvas, date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

Une femme assise tenant une jeune fille sur ses genoux (A seated woman holding a girl on her lap), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Une femme assise tenant une jeune fille sur ses genoux (A seated woman holding a girl on her lap), oil on canvas, date unkown, Marguerite Gérard

Dors mon enfant (Sleep my child), oil on canvas, ca. 1783–1786, Marguerite Gérard

Dors mon enfant (Sleep my child), oil on canvas, ca. 1783–1786, Marguerite Gérard

L' allaitement Maternel Mère (The Breastfeeding Mother), date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

L’ allaitement Maternel Mère (The Breastfeeding Mother), date unknown, Marguerite Gérard

 

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