Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Lead Poisoning
Page 1 of 1

Author:  cherecoeur [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:00 am ]
Post subject:  Lead Poisoning

To whiten the cheeks, dandies are said to have applied face powder containing lead which sickened and killed them. Now I hear the use of lead also in the process of making ormolu killed artisans of the period. I suppose that death in the service of Art and Beauty is no vice.

Author:  baron de batz [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

Somehow their grip on life was so mcuh more fragile than our's now, and they were so aware of death. It wasn't taboo..

Author:  cherecoeur [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

That is certainly an interesting point that the Baron makes. We think we're immortal and can run to the doctor and be saved from anything now! I wish I could remember the name***, but one of the great male dancers of the time died from blood poisoning from a wound to a foot when alighting from a carriage. It was said a chicken bone pierced his shoe. That was in 1787. I've wondered how artists of the time, although they may have been seriously ill, could keep their personal misfortune from disturbing the grace and cheerfulness of their creations. Now, everything goes black.*** (I found it on Maximilien Gardel (1758-1787).

Author:  Anouk [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

What a bizarre story! At that time, there was no antidote against blood poisoning :(

Author:  Marija Vera [ Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

Kitty Fisher was a very famous courtesan in London and a famous victim of poisoning by lead based cosmetics (she died in 1767). Women were really obsessed by having very pale skin. I do prefer it, I like it on myself, and luckily my natural skin colour is very pale. There must have been quite a few victims of this sort in the 18th century.

Kitty Fisher, 1757 59 by Reynolds.jpg
Kitty Fisher, 1757 59 by Reynolds.jpg [ 38.46 KiB | Viewed 4863 times ]

I agree with both baron and cherecoeur on this matter .

Author:  Hellou_Librorum [ Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

Many cosmetics at that time included lead including rouge I believe so I'm assuming it was fairly common.

Author:  Lottie [ Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

And today, there are so many people that lay out in the sun to the point of getting sun poisoning or skin cancer. While the styles may change, what we're willing to do to be beautiful doesn't seem to have a limit.

Author:  Marija Vera [ Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

That's true. Anyway, many people told me that the reason of having a very pale complexion lied in a need to feel distinguished from the peasants who had been working outside, in the fields, and because of it had a tan. Wouldn't find it surprising but still it could be one of those common legends (like that Egyptians had that tough system of slavery depicted in the movies of Moses).

Author:  History Detective [ Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lead Poisoning

Hi, all! In my research into the life of Adrienne de La Fayette (wife of the Marquis de La Fayette), I discovered an excellent report written about the terrible illness that led to her death in 1807. From family medical documentation, receipts for medecines, etc., a researcher has discovered that Adrienne died of lead poisoning. The entire report is fascinating reading, and I have provided a link below. Here is an excerpt describing the remedies she was given during her illness--lead being one of the main ingredients...

Adrienne's prescriptions included: numerous sets of leeches; stones for cautery; emetics and botanical remedies that included poppy-heads and laudanum [a narcotic cordial containing opium that acts as a seditive], marsh mallow (althea) root to soothe her mucous membrane (similar to the cough drops we have nowadays), blackberry jelly, saffron, and dozens of citrons [the largest member of the citrus family--often ten inches long--whose pulp is unusable but the peel is candied]. Most important among these receipts there are also nine prescriptions for various forms of lead--either "lead cerate" [a cerate is a smearing mixture containing beeswax], "lead" or "concentrated lead." Because there are also receipts for plasters, we can theorize that the lead cerate was to smear on the plasters [strips of gauze]. These in turn were placed on her legs (which were so swollen that they blistered and the skin was broken wide-open enough to require cautery) hopefully to act as an astringent. The plasters were then wrapped with gummed bandages (also listed) to promote the adsorption of the chemicals as well as to increase the circulation. If some external application of lead cerate was therapeutic, why not facilitate healing from the inside out? So over about a three-month period, somebody ordered the eight bottles of liquid lead compounds. From this sample, it appears that Adrienne died from lead-poisoning. The symptoms of her last illness--intense stomach pain, headaches, hallucinations, vomiting, delirium and convulsions--are all consistent with this.

(Burton, June K., Ph.D., Ll.D., F.I.N.S. Two “Better Halves” in the Worst of Times—Adrienne Noailles Lafayette (1759-1807) and Fanny Burney d’Arblay (1752-1840) as Medical and Surgical Patients Under the First Empire. Essay. Cleveland State University. 2001.)

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group