Back by popular request, welcome to the latest installment of Cute and Mundane's 'Inspired by Art' series! If you're new to the blog, this series is something I started back in August 2011, when I came across Édouard Manet's 1967 painting The Philosopher and was inspired to design a palette around the beautiful blue hues. On my most recent visit to Chicago's Art Institute, I 'struck gold' when I came across the opulent table service display, pictured above. This empire-style silver-gilt service belonged to Pauline Borghese, sister of Emperor Napoleon I of France. The set was designed by Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), Napoleon's chief goldsmith. Biennais was born of modest means in Lower Normandy and settled in Paris as a tablet maker. His exceptional destiny was born when he attracted the attention of then General Bonaparte; Biennais went on to craft the regalia used at the emperor's coronation. Although renowned for all aspects of his craft, Biennais' silver-gilt pieces are among his most spectacular creations.
To me, the Biennais silver-gilt display evokes the look of dark blue eyes and gold highlights on a creamy canvas base. Deep cobalt blue anchors the ensemble and provides contrast to golden highlights. Eyeshadows like NARS Mandchourie eyeshadow duo (reviewed here), Urban Decay Evidence eyeshadow, Smashbox Sapphire, and MAC Nautical Navy eyeshadow (reviewed here) could be used to create a smoky blue eye. Alternatively, a cleanly drawn line could also add sufficient depth and interest. A few of the liners in my collection (Guerlain Terracotta Khôl Kajal 02 Blu Aqua and NARS Larger Than Life eyeliner in Rue Saint Honoré) would get the job done.
Gold, of course, is the centerpiece of the look. MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Whisper of Gilt and Guerlain Terracotta Sun in the City (reviewed here) are perfect for adding gilded highlights to the face. As for adding that special golden glint to your eyes, try out NARS Exotic Dance eyeshadow duo (reviewed here), Bare Minerals High Shine Eyecolor in Gold Medal, and MAC Barefoot Eyeshadow (reviewed here). I would suggest applying these products liberally to highlight cheekbones and the rims or corners of the eye. Just make sure you don't overdo it or else you might end up looking like an Oscar!
Martin-Guillaume Biennais' Napoleonic table service provides a beautiful inspiration fit for the holidays. Deep blue and brilliant gold are a departure from the reds that typify the holiday season; however, they still impart a sense of familiarity... Perhaps this is because blue and gold are the original colors of Christmas; after all, in scenes of the nativity, a humble manger glows golden bright amidst a deep blue Christmas sky.
Thank you for reading, and thank you to everyone who encouraged me to continue my 'Inspired by Art' series! Your support means a lot to me, and I plan to share art-inspired color palettes more regularly in the future! Have you worn any blue or gold this holiday season? What colors have you been wearing lately? Do you own any ornate silverware from generations past?