Courting Perfume

In 1533, when Catherine de Medici left Italy to marry Henry II, she took all of her personal perfumes and perfumers with her. It was not uncommon for royalty and wealthy citizens to employ their own perfumers and jewelers who were responsible for creating exquisite one-of-a-kind containers for each perfume. The marriage of Marie Antoinette to the future king of France, Louis XVI, united two intense devotees of perfume. Both reveled in environments heavy with scent. But it was Louis XIV who became known as "The Perfumed King" in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. His retinue of perfumers created different scents for him and his court to wear morning, noon, and night. In his court, the wings of doves were drenched with fragrance to be released after a great banquet to fill the air with refreshing scents. Extravagance was the coin of the realm. Vessels were designed to allow incense to be sprinkled on carpets and in dresser drawers. Incense was also burned to fumigate clothes, living quarters, and to induce sleep.

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