Ladies, I’m so excited to introduce you to the charming Julie, creator of the Manon Boudoir Instagram account today! I had the pleasure of following her account for a few years and always marveled at her exquisite creations – she is such a talented, beautiful, and feminine lady!
Julie, I just love your watercolors – they are so romantic and sophisticated! Could you tell us more about your journey as an artist?
Thank you for your kind words and for having me here! My journey as an artist started rather unexpectedly even for myself. I never went to an art school and even though I used to draw occasionally and read lots of magazines about art and artists my mother bought me, it certainly wasn’t my main interest or priority.
I played the piano, studied languages at the university and was doing a PhD (on Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic discourse) when I had to move from my home town to magnificent Saint Petersburg – the cultural capital of Russia and a real museum city.
“The Venice of the North” with its imperial palaces and rich museums breathing with history, gave me so much inspiration and creative energy that I couldn’t but take a set of watercolors and start drawing.
What would you say are your biggest inspirations in your art work at Manon Boudoir?
My artistic inspirations range vastly from the French art of the 18th century (Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun) to the Russian pre-revolutionary movement Mir Iskusstva (Benois, Bakst and Somov) along with Manet, Boldini, Helleux, Beraud and Gervex, Morisot and Degas as well as the sculpture of Canova.
The feminine and refined photography of Lillian Bassman is another source of inspiration for me. Besides, I get frequently inspired by the life around me, whether it’s a film, a good book, an interesting encounter or an eventful weekend. I think beauty and inspiration can be found even in the simplest of things. And learning to see it is important for every artist.
You are now based in Moscow, is that right? What are your favorite places in the Russian capital?
Yes, I currently live in Moscow where I moved from Saint Petersburg almost a year ago. Though originally I’m from a small town in the Southern Ural. One of my favorite Moscow places are Café Pouchkine, an exquisite gem of a café with the 18th century inspired interiors and fancy pastries, and Ladurée with the best hot chocolate and decadently delicious dessert “Ispahan.”
My happy places are the Bolshoi and Stanislavsky theaters. I’m a big fan of classical ballet and Italian opera and I enjoy going there for a beautiful escape. There is nothing like this feeling when the performance is about to start.
I once heard that in German there is a word “Vorfreude” that can be roughly translated as joyful anticipation. I think this word describes my feelings when in theater best of all. Another pleasant ritual is to swing by the Metropol, a historic Art Nouveau hotel in the heart of Moscow for a cocktail or two right before the theater or on the weekend.
Other locations where you can find me are Kuskovo and Tsaritsyno estates. They used to be the residences of noble and imperial families, but now they are open to the public for a visit. Kuskovo has a prominent collection of the 18th century art and Tsaritsyno is particularly wonderful during summer to have a leisurely walk around.
Another comfort place for me is the The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Its collection of the French art is remarkable and I enjoy strolling there, admiring details of my favorite works. It never fails to lift my spirits and provide with the ideas for my drawings.
What are your favorite films and books?
I am a huge fan of costumed movies. And I can watch Marie Antoinette (2006), The Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Age of Innocence (1993), The Leopard (1963), A Room with a View (1985), Russian Ark (2002) and Barry Lyndon (1975) over and over again.
I also love almost all the cinema of Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli. As for the last things I’ve seen and enjoyed, these were The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and Emma (2020).
Some of my favorite books include La Dame aux Camélias by Dumas, Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma, Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Gautier’s Fortunio, Puchkin’s Eugene Onegin, a few short stories of Bunin, Turgenev and Kuprin.
I also love reading about the lives of people who inspire me. The memoirs of Felix Yusupov, the biographies of Maria Callas, Serge Diaghilev, Giacomo Puccini are always uplifting and encouraging like heart-to-heart conversation with a good old friend.
If you could change one thing about our modern society what would you choose?
That’s a really difficult question as it’s hard to pick only one thing I’d like to change. If I had to choose though, I would erase discrimination of all sorts. Needless to say how wrong, unfair and dangerous it is but nonetheless still widespread and practiced in the world.
I think beauty and inspiration can be found in even the simplest of things. And learning to see it is important for every artist.Julie from Manon Boudoir
I hope you were inspired by Julie’s story! Doesn’t she have the most exquisite taste? Julie has an etsy shop in case you’d like a little watercolor for your own boudoir!
I think I’ll go and watch the new version of Emma now (I remember the old version with Gwyneth Paltrow in the 90’s which was quite enjoyable too.)
(Update: Julie was commissioned by the famous Villa Ephrussi in Cap Ferrat to do a series of watercolors imagining the daily life of Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild in the early 20th century. They are absolutely delightful!)
See you next time!
xoxo, Mrs. Hannover
P.S. Since you’re here perhaps you’d like to read my interview with the lovely Maddalena del Gobbo next?