Because I'm very jet=lagged from my trip to the APA in Vancouver, this week instead of a post I will share part of a less philosophical project - a series of portraits of women philosophers at work, paired with fictional extracts from their diaries. So here is Sophie de Grouchy, depicted writing her Letters on Sympathy and with a fictional extract from a diary from January 1794.
Silk stays, linen shifts, neck ruffles. It’s all in order. Cardot clearly has a way with women’s underwear. He has a way with the customers too - charming, and not intimidating, so that they feel they can ask him for their intimate needs, or that of their mistresses in some cases still - not all class privilege is gone! I must remember to pick up a new shift for my old nanny before I go. And shirt sleeves for my sister, Charlotte. None of us want stays - one good thing about the revolution is that we have loosened our underwear! Also, I could not possibly walk all the way from Auteuil dressed like a lady. I will take off my peasant dress, now I’m here, and put on my work clothes which are waiting for me upstairs, in the studio. I have three commissions to catch up on. Two that pay, and one for free, a portrait of a young girl who is at the Conciergerie, for her mother. I could not bear to charge her for it. I am late though, and I wouldn’t be if it were not for those men who came to arrest me and Cardot last week. I spent days painting their portraits, just so they would leave us alone. Not that they had any grounds to arrest us. I am no longer married to Condorcet, and Cardot is working for me, not for my husband, nor for his brother, my husband’s secretary.
I do enjoy the painting - when it’s not for a brute of a police man. I miss the writing. Of course, I help my husband (I still call him that - the divorce is on paper only). Everyday I see him, which is most days except when I think I might be followed, or at the weekend, I spend an hour or so reading what he has written, and discussing it with him. I dare not take it with me - I don’t want it discovered in a search and destroyed. But I know I will have to look after it, eventually, and keep it safe until it can be published and until Condorcet can come out of hiding.
I say we work together - and we do - but of lated I feel most of my efforts are directed to helping him feel better. He is not looking after himself, and his spirits are depressed. His landlady, his saintly landlady, is helping of course. And most of the time, he dares not refuse the food she offers him. But there is only so much she can do. Only so much I can do too. I keep telling him that soon it will be over, and that he'll come back home to me and our daughter, but it seems he does not have the patience to wait any more.
This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.