03.11Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: 03.11

March 30, 2011

Quoteables: Pope Clement XIV

"His [Louis XV] death makes me shed tears, but the manner of his death dries them up."

Clement XIV when learning of the death of Louis XV

Clement, and Louis-Antoine Caraccioli. 1777. Interesting Letters Of Pope Clement XIV. Transl. Revised. London: T. Becket. 

March 28, 2011

Seven Charges made against Marie Antoinette

Many people use Yahoo Questions and sometimes some pretty funny ones will pop up during searches. I stumbled on my amazingly relevant Yahoo Question of the Day recently, "What was the deal with Marie Antoinette?"

So the asking party really was wondering if she was executed, which I think we all here can safely answer 'yes.' But what were the grounds for her execution?  Let's take a look at her trial....

Anonymous (French), Marie Antoinette in the Temple Prison in 1793, painting. Musée Carnavalet. 
Marie Antoinette was brought to trial as the Widow Capet, after Louis XVI had already lost his own trial (among other things).  She went before the revolutionary tribunal on October 14, 1793.  Her jury was all men, and it was a two day trial.  She had seven charges against her:

With having dilapidated and lavished the finances of the nation, in concert with the execrable Calonne, by causing to be transmitted to the Emperor several millions, which still serve to carry on the war with France

With having, in imitation of Brunehaud and De Medecis, who also called themselves queens of France, conspired against the liberty of the French nation

With having sought to starve the people in 1789

With having excited the murders of October 5 and 6

With having, in concert with Bailly and la Fayette, caused the patriots to be butchered in the Champ de Mars

With having prevailed upon the Swiss to fire on the people on the 10th of August

With having, like another Agrippina, forgotten that she was a mother, in order to commit incest with her son
She was found guilty by a jury of men on October 15. The next day she was brought to the guillotine, October 16, 1793.

Danish School ( ? - 1799), The Execution of Marie-Antoinette (1755-93) 16th Oct 1793. Oil on copper, 18th century. Musee de la Ville de Paris, Musee Carnavalet, Paris, France.

March 24, 2011

Details: Portrait of the Comtesse de Beaufort

Louis Michel van Loo, Portrait of the Comtesse de Beaufort. 1760, oil on canvas. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College.

I love this portrait, especially how the blue from the dress seems to reflect off the white satin bodice.  If you look closely some of the gemstones seem to have a color to them.  Such a simple gown for a portrait!

March 22, 2011

Exhibtion: The Strange World of Albrecht Durer

I finally had the opportunity to view explore The Strange World of Albrecht Durer, on view at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute through March 13th.   I discovered a few things from the show: Durer’s unique storytelling, imagination and his amazing hand.

I started at the beginning of the show, and each room leads you through various sets of prints and symbols such as The Apocalypse, War and Suffering and Gender and Anxiety.  Soaking up the images and the creatures found in them, I breezed to the back room where a video about Durer’s studio is featured. 

I knew a little about printmaking before entering the show but in only a few minutes the video explained in detail just how he created his works, the amazing tools and more amazing skill that went into his woodcarvings was fascinating.  Almost before the movie ended I realized I had to head back in to the show.

This time I went backwards, and used the magnifying glass I had been carrying around.  I was taken by each shadowy mountain cliff he carved.  I could not believe the detail of the stacked stones that created crumbling architecture and his almost porous wooden beams.  These features, although mainly set in the background not only set the stage for his creatures but help create a reality for them.  He placed them in a world just like his own, and the figures although often more fantasy begin to lean towards the real.  I can only imagine what his 16th century audience felt when they saw the prints!

March 18, 2011

Historical Passion Party!

The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is hosting an exhibition straight from the Louvre titled Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century. The exhibition opened March 20 and is on through May 30, 2011.

Featuring over 150 pieces of art, the show attempts to display the inspiration of the classical world on 18th century artists. The exhibition outlines the historical influences on neoclassic art as well as the imagination and sensibilities (or lack of) of the 18th century artist!

Vien, Joseph-Marie Vien, Girl Selling Cupids (or Cupid Seller). 1763, oil on canvas. Château de Fontainebleau.

Of the works in this show, I wanted to share this painting by Joseph Marie Vien, who was head of the Académie Royale in Rome. Vien's painting is set in a large room which is decorated with pilasters along the wall and a large Grecian urn as a centerpiece. A table sits against the wall with a rose silk cloth draped over it, holding a vase of spring flowers and a golden decorative box. The room smells of warm and spicy incense, which we can see burns in a large incense burner just behind the vase.

Three figures are profiled in this work, and a beautiful aristocrat woman sits in the center on a golden chair. Her companion stands behind her and both women are giving their full attention to the young girl who sits on the floor with a basket of cupids. She selects a cupid with blue wings and holds it up by he wings for the lady to see.

In the image the girl appears to be mid-sentence, explaining something about the little item to the women. The cupid extends an arm, in a suggestive gesture. The woman in peach and green tugs at her skirt. What we have here is a passion party! Complete with sex toys. A perfect example of a classically inspired work with a bit of 18th century touch.

If you are interested in the exhibition but can't make it, the catalog is available now for 45

March 15, 2011

New Book: Royal Pains

I received a cute notice on parchment the other day from author Leslie Carroll announcing her newest book (which had me at the title) Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds.

It sounds like this is another must page turner type book for the shelves! Tag line: In a world where sibling rivalry knows no bounds and excess is never enough, meet some of history's boldest, baddest and bawdiest royals.

A world where excess is never enough? Sounds perfect for us!  So I will have to pick it up soon.  Let me know what you think of it you get it!  If you want to talk to Leslie about her book or your favorite saucy royals she is @lcarrollauthor on twitter!

Carroll, Leslie. 2011. Royal pains: a rogues' gallery of brats, brutes, and bad seeds. New York: New American Library. ISBN 9780451232212

Available from:

March 11, 2011

Wedding Ceremony: Marie Antoinette and Louis

I found this excellent account of the wedding ceremony between Marie Antoinette and her Louis (soon to be King Louis XVI!) This is not about the festivities, which are no doubt fun, but the actual ceremony that took place.

images source

"This Prelate, after addressing the Dauphin and Dauphiness, began the ceremony by the benediction of thirteen pieces of gold, and of a gold ring, which he presented to the Dauphin, who put the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand of the Dauphiness, and gave her the thirteen pieces of gold. The marriage ceremony being finished, and the Dauphin and Dauphiness having received the nuptial benediction, the King returned to his pew, and the Great Almoner began mass; during which the King's Musick performed an anthem composed by Abbe Gauzargues, Master of Musick to his Majesty. After the offertory, the Dauphin and Dauphiness went to the offering, and at the end of the Pater, a canopy silver brocade was spread over their heads..."

University of Oxford. 1770. The Oxford magazine: Or, University museum. Volume 4. London: Printed for the authors.

It makes me wonder, what would David Tutera think? Sounds a bit like a My Fair Wedding.  I think he would like it...!

*Prelate is a lead clergyman and Pater refers to the prayer Our Father.

March 10, 2011

Brothers are better than Mothers!

In a letter to the Empress Maria Theresa, the comte de Mercy accounted for a conversation Marie Antoinette had with him.

The topic of conversation was her mother, and she explained that although she loved her mother, even when separated by distance she feared her.  The great intimidation she felt by her mother made her even more uneasy to tell her of anything that went wrong in her life.

She continued to talk about how different things were with her brother the Emperor.  With him she felt completely at ease, and knew she could joke around with him as they had in the past.  She didn't mind telling him her troubles, and would tell him if he said something she disagreed with. 

Mercy took to his pen to tell the Empress what the young Antoinette had explained and expressed his optimistic opinion that he had "confidence that a character so full of truth sincerity and candour will preserve Marie Antoinette in a whirlpool as dangerous as this is."

1 February 1773

March 08, 2011

Gerrit Dou: Sleeping Dog

Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog. 1650, oil on canvas. Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection.

I will apologize for making anyone melt due to pup cuteness, but when I saw it, I had to post this lovely painting by Dutch painter Gerrit Dou.  Dou began his career working in the studio of Rembrandt and became highly skilled in illusionistic paintings.  His works were highly sought after and highly paid for.  He had a successful career in Leiden, was commissioned by various courts, and was a popular teacher.

March 04, 2011

The Talented Artist: Monkey as a Painter

Jean-Siméon Chardin, Monkey as Painter. 1740. Musée du Louvre

Hurrah! Tis Friday! Before you all take off for your fabulous weekends, I thought I would share some artwork with you.  This piece is by Chardin, who clearly had a great sense of humor.  Here our monkey is displaying his talents by painting a finely set up still life. 

The still life includes marble sculpture, glass and fabric, all textures are meant to show the range of his skill.  Our little painter also portrays his care for the accurate as he rests his wrists to steady his hand, clearly a skilled life painter.

Below the still life you will see his large portfolio of works. This addition suggests that he has been painting for sometime and his talent apparent.  Similar motifs can be seen in later works such as the following portrait of Madame du Pompadour who also had a passion for art. Notice both artists used blue satin ribbons to tie their portfolios, I think I would do the same!

 Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, Madame de Pompadour. 1752, pastel. Musée du Louvre.

March 03, 2011

Petit Trianon

 Have you ever noticed the architecture of Petit Trianon?  The pavilion-esque building is surrounded by gardens in English and French styles. With such a simple exterior the gardens really brought beauty to the building.  Filled with flowers of all varieties, they were exactly what Marie Antoinette loved which helped to make the place ideal for her.

Image source: Flickr
Marie Antoinette did not design the building, although it was given to her as a gift from her Louis shortly after he was crowned king.  It was originally built by Louis XV's architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel between 1762 and 1768.  Petit Trianon became Gabriel's best known work.

The columns that decorate the building are Corinthian, the most spiritual order.  Built with smooth stone masonry, Petit Trianon stands two stories high, with quarters below for the staff.  The building is square in shape measuring eighty ft long, plenty of room for intimate parties and guests!