Sunday, November 3, 2013

French lesson

Standing Portrait of Madame Paul-Sigisbert Moitessier, née Marie Clotilde Inès de Foucauld by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1851 – 'terrible et belle tête' doesn't mean terrible and beautiful tits.
click to embiggen
Standing Portrait of Madame Moitessier by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1851
Oil on canvas 57.75 x 39.5 inches (146.7 x 100.3 cm)

I've come across a lot of foreign words over the years. I've roughly translated articles from foreign languages so I could read them and after a while one notices some words are shared between languages, some have a shared origin and so are similar, some words are easy to remember and sometimes you can guess the word based on the context.

For example, in French "terrible" means "terrible" and "et" means "and" in both French and Latin and the French word "Belle" besides being easy to remember is also similar to the Spanish and Italian words for beautiful.

Anyways, the painter Ingres decided to paint Mme Moitessier after meeting her and being struck by her appearance. He described as "terrible et belle tête."

It is usually best to double check a translation; "terrible et belle tête" despite fitting in with the context does not mean what I initially assumed. It turns out tête is French for head.

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