C18th makeups: the Marquise de Merteuil

Marquise de Merteuil

Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) is a famous French epistolary (composed entirely of letters) novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, first published in 1782. It is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont: two rivals – and one-time lovers – who use sex as a weapon to humiliate and degrade others for their personal amusement. It also depicts the decadence of the French aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution; thus it is seen as a work that exposes the perversions of the so-called ancien régime.

The Marquise de Merteuil is not a nice lady but she is a fascinating one and has been portrayed many times on screen. Besides the many period versions of the story, the plot has been recontextualised into modern day settings in movies such as the delicious Cruel Intentions with Sarah Michelle Gellar (not to mention its increasing weak sequels) and Les Liaisons dangereuses with Catherine Deneuve.

I still think the best Merteuil I have seen was Lindsay Duncan in the stage version.

The movies

Valmont (1989): featured Annette Bening and was the far less successful of two competing versions. Paul LeBlanc was wig and makeup designer.

Dangerous Liaisons (1988): featured Glenn Close in the role (images coming soon). Jean-Luc Russier – who has often worked with Glenn Close – was superving makeup artist and Peter Owen was wig designer on Dangerous Liaisons.

Les Liaisons dangereuses (1959): Jeanne Moreau took the role in this French movie. Coming soon …