In his foreword to The French Royal Wardrobe: The Hotel de la Marine Restored, Philippe Bélaval, the President of the Centre des Monuments Nationaux, illustrates how painstaking…View More The Hotel de la Marine Restored
Tag: Marie Antoinette
The legacy of Marie Antoinette is so multifaceted, it’s difficult to know where to begin to explore her story. I do so one bite-sized piece at a time.
An example is seeing the Queen through the eyes of her non-official portrait painter, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. I walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France in anticipation of seeing some of her most famous portraits of Marie Antoinette.
She would gain the most fame from these, the first a full-length portrait of the Queen in court dress that would be given to her mother, Maria Theresa of Austria. Upon receiving the painting, the empress was pleased to see the regal bearing of her daughter that Vigée Le Brun had captured.
But the dazzlingly formal portraits were only one piece of the story written by the friendship between these two women. As Vigée Le Brun’s memoirs prove, no matter how many famous women and men she would immortalize abroad, she never lost her fondness for Marie Antoinette and never felt quite as much joy as she had experienced painting the queen. She took great pains in describing the monarch’s physical attributes in her memoirs: “Marie Antoinette was tall and admirably built, being somewhat stout, but not excessively so,” Vigée Le Brun notes. “Her arms were superb, her hands small and perfectly formed, and her feet charming. She had the best walk of any woman in France, carrying her head erect with a dignity that stamped her queen in the midst of her whole court, her majestic mien, however, not in the least diminishing the sweetness and amiability of her face.”
It was the queen’s complexion that made the greatest impact on the painter: “…the most remarkable thing about her face was the splendor of her complexion. I never have seen one so brilliant, and brilliant is the word, for her skin was so transparent that it bore no umber in the painting. Neither could I render the real effect of it as I wished. I had no colors to paint such freshness, such delicate tints, which were hers alone, and which I had never seen in any other woman.” I feature Marie Antoinette in other diary entries so if you’d like to know how I’ve explored her story so far, you can click on this tag on my site. Happy reading!
The Fashionable Grecian Supper
This essay about a fashionable Grecian supper held by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun is included in my book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other essays in…View More The Fashionable Grecian Supper
The Tapestry of History
In just a few hours, the modern ideal of a fairy tale wedding will take place at Windsor Castle. A trip I took to the…View More The Tapestry of History
Exploring Frankfurt with Goethe
I am returning to Frankfurt am Main next week to attend Heimtextil for the second time, an experience I truly enjoyed last year for the…View More Exploring Frankfurt with Goethe
My Porcelain Bucket List
When I am planning literary design adventures, I look for experiences that give me the feeling of transcendence—encounters during which I am conscious of having…View More My Porcelain Bucket List
Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
A Passion for Painting Billowing ruched fabric, pointy toes of dainty shoes visible from beneath flounced skirts hemmed in gold fringes and ornate trims. A bejeweled…View More Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
Dining with History
A month from Sunday, I’ll be winging my way to Paris to attend Maison & Objet, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve been invited to…View More Dining with History
We’ll Never Be Royals
Nest Nest Nest features the Alliage pattern.As I write this, I can feel the design energy draining from the Americas as the movers-and-shakers in our…View More We’ll Never Be Royals
Rococo Style in Italy
If I told you the most surprising thing I found in Parma, Italy, was France, would you think I’d lost my mind? I’m not speaking…View More Rococo Style in Italy