For the Francophiles (and city mice), continued: Catrice Big City Life
Curator's Corner, 11/17/2012

Hey baby, what's your sign?

Well, it's my birthday week.  Yes, I celebrate the entire week!  I feel that the older you get the more you deserve to celebrate.  Since my b-day falls in mid-November, that makes me a Scorpio, and it got me thinking about these gorgeous Estée Lauder Zodiac compacts that I spotted a few months ago.  I like the designs, but I think the nicest thing about these compacts is the corresponding birthstone on each clasp.

Capricorn and Aquarius:


Pisces and Aries:


Taurus and Gemini:


Cancer and Leo:


Virgo and Libra:


Scorpio and Sagittarius:

EL-Scorpio-Sagittarius(images from

Let's take a peek at some art historical references.  Zodiac signs figured prominently in Western medieval art.  Of course, back then depictions of the zodiac signs weren't as closely linked to personality traits as they are now - they usually represented the labor performed in each month (there were many variations depending on the region, however). Here are some of my favorite examples.

Stained glass windows at Chartres Cathedral - this picture shows Scorpio (in the middle), Sagittarius (upper right), the month of December (upper left), Libra (lower left):

Picture 1

Leo (middle), Virgo (upper right), Cancer (lower right):

Picture 2


Picture 3
(images from

Roundels at Canterbury Cathedral:





(images from

February (typically represented by warming by the fire) and July (wheat threshing) month pages from Les Très Riches Heures de Duc de Berry, an illuminated manuscript:


Les_Très_Riches_Heures_du_duc_de_Berry_juillet(images from

At roughly the same time, zodiac signs were gaining popularity in Egyptian, Syrian and Iranian art.  Both these regions as well as those in the West based their illustrations on ancient Greek astrology. 

Here's an inkwell and flask, both from Iran:


(images from

So that concludes this altogether too-brief survey of zodiac signs in medieval art.  Which one was your favorite?  Do you like your zodiac sign?  Will you be snapping up one of these Estée Lauder compacts in honor of your birthday?

P.S. Speaking of birthdays and presents, be sure to enter to win some NARS Andy Warhol treats!

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