A Scented Palace: The Secret History Of Marie-Antoinette’s Perfumer
Jean-Louis Fargeon, son of a perfumer in the scent-rich town of Montpellier, France, apprenticed well and took his trade to Paris, where his made-to-order scents spread his reputation to the court of Versailles. He soon became exclusive perfumer to the young Marie Antoinette, creating fragrances to suit her moods as well as healing unguents to help her retain her beauty and health. Although devoted to his queen for many years, he remained a Republican at heart, which caused a rift when the Revolution of 1789 swept France, and all who aided the palace were considered enemies of the state. Fargeon was imprisoned merely for “profiting from the vices of aristocrats” although he could prove his support of the Republic.
Well-researched from Fargeon’s papers, this book is a fascinating read not only for detail of the complex creation of scent but for one man’s view of the Revolution, as seen from both sides. Fargeon’s palette and a glossary of botanical terms appear in the appendix, exemplifying the knowledge and skill of a master perfumer. This is a unique study of craft, extravagance, and the violence which dealt a blow to both.