Neroli, the essence of Princess des Ursins’ legacy: the blooming of a legend
When the Princesse des Ursins (1642-1722), née Marie-Anne de la Trémoille, entered the Roman aristocracy after marrying the Duke of Bracciano and Prince of Neroli (Flavio Orsini) in 1675, she brought with her an extensive entourage in terms of material culture. As an active agent at the court of Louis XIV (1638-1715), she managed to establish herself in Rome, undertaking various missions. These included a sort of cultural diplomacy formulated through various practices characteristic of the French court. She became an art collector, a patron of music and developed her taste for decoration, becoming an ambassador of trends. Her political activism has historically been recognized through various studies, while her artistic agency has attracted more recent interest. The Princesse des Ursins was credited for making fashionable to perfume her gloves with Neroli essence, name of a princely title she herself held.
Legend has it that the essence of bitter orange was named this way in her honour. This case study tries to account for the origin of this myth that has turned the essence of Neroli into an inmaterial legacy related to her identity. Also, how the Princesse des Ursins thus became an eternal persona through the perpetuation of her princely title on this perfume transcending her own time. Finally, the author attempts to explore how she exploited the perfumery practices acquired at the Sun King’s court.