Art and Literature

Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel, oil on canvas, 1778. © National Portrait Gallery. NPG 4905. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Elizabeth (Robinson) Montagu

Called the ‘Queen of the Bluestockings’ in her own time, Elizabeth Montagu was perhaps the best-known salon hostess during the second half of the eighteenth century.
Erasmus Dawin

Erasmus Darwin

DAUPHIN Caroline
Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) was the author of The Temple of Nature, in which he considers the concept of sociability as one of the keys to the evolution of species: love and sympathy guide the species toward perfection through the multiple changes caused by transformism.

Helen Maria Williams

‘In every country it is social pleasure that sheds the most delicious flowers which grow on the path of life’ (H.M. Williams, Letters, 1790, 140 ). This British author, who settled in Paris in 1792, contributed greatly to the circulation of ideas between France and England through her intellectual and political circles as well as through her publications. She was a tireless chronicler of social practices and historical events from the Revolution to the Restoration.
Thrale Piozzi

Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi

Often considered a contradictory character herself, Hester Thrale Piozzi, now best remembered as a Bluestocking hostess and biographer of Samuel Johnson, embodies some of the contradictions of eighteenth-century sociable lives.
Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole (and the English Garden)

LE PAPE Isabelle
Par la richesse de ses relations sociales dont on connaît les retentissements grâce aux correspondances échangées avec ses compatriotes et des personnalités françaises influentes, comme Madame Du Deffand, Horace Walpole contribua largement à la diffusion du modèle du jardin anglais en France durant la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle.
James Boswell

James Boswell

After a restricted childhood, Boswell as a young man broke out to become a hard-drinking womaniser and dedicated socialiser. He also devoted considerable time to seeking out the company of great men, not least the famous Samuel Johnson.