Pups of the past: Marie Antoinette's dogs | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Pups of the past: Marie Antoinette's dogs
August 11, 2011
Pups of the past: Marie Antoinette's dogs
I have been doing a little bit of reading on some historical pups of money. I have never had a dog of my own, but I see the appeal! So lets start off with Mops.
Mops was the young archduchess' pug. In Caroline Weber's Queen of Fashion, the pup is described as tawney in color and as one of the accessories that could not be brought to France. Mops had to ride back to Vienna without his owner. Weber's mention of Mops implies that dogs were too much of a liability, for a lady who needs to keep a perfect image. "His dirty paws could simply not be trusted around a woman who, now more than ever, was going to have to look her best."
Mops was eventually sent to France and reunited with the new dauphine.
Henri-Pierre Danloux, Studies of a Spaniel. Black chalk on fine-textured blue paper, 1791. Ashmolean Museum.
And how could we forget Thisbe? This little spaniel belonged to the queen during her later years, and some revolutionary stories about the pup give him a Greyfriars Bobby-like tale! The little spaniel, known as Thisbe, was with the queen and her family when they were imprisoned in the Temple. When Louis XVI was guillotined, the pup stayed with the queen and her children, and still when the children were taken. Only were they separated when Marie Antoinette was moved to the Conciergerie.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Banquet of Antony and Cleopatra; detail of a dog. Fresco. Palazzo Labia.
Well you can't keep a pup from his owner, and little Thisbe tracked down the door to where Marie Antoinette was held. He sat outside all day. People began to talk about just who the dog was waiting for, "The queen herself..."
A certain Madame Arnaud couldn't pass the sad dog without sympathy. She discreetly kept him fed and even let him sleep at her house. Concerned friends and family warned her of the danger showing any favor to anything related to the royal family. Under this pressure, she sent the spaniel to her sister.
Her sister cared for the dog, but found him to be most disagreeable. Yipping and howling all day, barely eating his food, she undoubtedly wondered why her sister cared for him so much. Perhaps to the delight of both parties, Thisbe was able to sneak out of the house one day, when someone cracked open the door- he quickly darted through!
Anonymous French, Studies of a Spaniel. Red chalk on paper, 18th century. Ashmolean Museum.
He traveled back to his spot near the gates of the conciergerie, where he kept his post as before. When the doors finally opened, a cart of people rolled through. This remarkable animal, recognizing his owner, followed this cart through the streets, and wandered around as the prisoners were unloaded.
"The Queen's head fell-there was a moment's dead silence-then the loud, agonising howl of a dog. In an instant, a soldier's bayonet pierced its heart. "So perish all that mourn an aristocrat" he cried; and mourning indeed an aristocrat died. Thisbe le chien de la Reine."