Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bat-Sheba by Judith Muller (Vintage Perfume)

Bat-Sheba was the most beloved of King David's wives and the woman who made him lose his head and commit sin after sin just so he could have her. Her first husband was Uriah, one of King David's generals. The king saw Bat-Sheba bathing on the roof of her house and made up his mind to have her. Bat-Sheba got pregnant while her husband was away on the battlefield, so in an effort to cover up the adultery, the king sent for Uriah. However, the husband refused to go home and see his wife while his soldiers and brothers in arms are in danger. King David then gave orders for Uriah to be placed in the most dangerous post and got him killed. These actions  carried some serious consequences for all involved. Death, war and loss followed.

Cheerful, I know. And apparently also inspiring enough for a perfume.

Bat-Sheba, a perfume by Israeli designer Judith Muller was launched in 1966. An unconfirmed story has perfumer Sophia Grojsman as the nose who created it (note to self:  ask about this if I ever meet Ms. Grojsman). The painted glass bottle is quite nice and has become a collector's item even without the juice. The perfume was most likely discontinued in the very early 80s.

Searching online, I've found several lists of notes with little in common. What would a bible-inspired perfume smell like? To my nose, Bat-Sheba is a fruity-floral chypre. It's quite unusual, actually, and took me a while to warm up to its charms. The fruit note in the opening is too abstract to pinpoint its origin and very ripe. Almost too ripe, actually, which is attractive and repulsive at the same time. It remains in the background even when a robust floral heart takes over. I smell carnation, rose and dirty jasmine. Some also list orris and ylang-ylang.

The drydown retains a honeyed fruit quality while patchouli and oakmoss make an appearance. That's where the chypre quality becomes apparent and very interesting. I like the way the perfume hangs to my clothes more than what happens on my skin, but that might be due to the age of my bottle and a few missing notes. All in all, there can't be too many real chypres in my collection.

Judith Muller perfumes have been gone for decades now but can still be found occasionally on eBay and other auction sites.

Art: Batsheba by Gustave Moreau, 1885
Photo of Bat-Sheba perfume bottle by me.


  1. That fragrance means a great deal me. I wore it exclusively during the time my husband courted me in1979. We've been married ever since. I want to find some that has been stored well enough that it's not degraded. I'm trying my luck on ebay (never did THAT before) people seem to want the bottles, they're ok but the perfume is the gem. If you find any, email me & I'll buy it & be ever grateful. It's nice to see someone else out there that appreciates it,she must have been a gifted lady, I wish one of her relatives could preserve her legacy and continue producing it. Thank you for taking the time to share this lovely history. [email protected]

    1. Are you still interested in the JM perfume? I have a full bottle - never used - which she gave me when she came to buy furniture from me when I was leaving Israel. She told me it was a collector's item, which I took with a pinch of salt at the time. If interested, please reply & I'll give you further details.

  2. The reason there are many different lists of notes & varying descriptions of Bat Sheba is because there were three different Bat Sheba perfumes, and everyone thinks they're smelling original Bat Sheba. I discuss this on my latest blog-post, which is devoted to Judith Muller frags. (BTW, if you'd ever like to sell that gorgeous bottle of Bat Sheba in your pic, please let me know. I'd pay a nice price for it. ;-)

  3. I was fortunate enough to get one full intact bottle several years ago, I put it on for the very special occasions, until during a flight the perfume scented all my luggage and that was it. I will however never forget the smell of Bat-Sheba...


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