Archive for the Marie Antoinette Category

A Moment for Louis XVI

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Recquiscat in Pace, Sans-culotte, Uncategorized on January 20, 2011 by babylonbaroque

As it is now 5:15 am in the city of Paris, in a few hours there will be an opportunity to either celebrate or mourn depending upon your ideology. Two hundred and eighteen years ago, Louis Auguste de France,better known as Louis XVI, King of France and Navarre was executed on the 21st of January 1793; the maddening crowds who had  gathered to see the only king of France executed, let out “shouts of joy” at 10:30 am.

The King was dead.

I am only an armchair historian, dilettantish at best; but I am romantic, Louis’s tale is tragic, I merely want to honor his death.

Louis XVI

portrait rondel


Philippe-Laurent Roland


Metropolitan Museum of Art

Often remembered as the king who wished to be a locksmith, Marie Antoinette’s star burnt much brighter, her image more glamorous , it is easy for the casual historian to overlook Louis XVI. From the accounts I have read, he was a man of intelligence and devotion to God, his country, and his family. His indecisiveness has been recently attributed to symptoms of clinical depression; as the spouse of a psychologist, I am eager to look into this.

But as I said I am not a historian, for now, I will just present images of the late king.

Louis XVI, King of France

painted porcelain

18th century

Louis XVI

aged 22

b.23rd august 1754

d.21st January 1793

King of France and Navarre 1174-1791

King of the French 1791-1792

painted 1776

Joseph-Siffred Duplessis


Musée national du Chåteau et des Trianons


Recquiscat in Pace

As King of the French, the king and his image underwent many humiliations;this engraving from happier times, 1775, was defaced in 1792, the king now known as Louis Capet is seen wearing the phrygian cap of the sans-culotte. It’s an unfortunate image.


Ultimately the king and his family endured being separated from one another when the comfort of family was most needed.

Louis XVI at the Tour du Temple

Jean-Francois Garneray


Death of Louis XVI,King of France

English Engraving


If interested, and you are fluent in French, there is a site devoted to the late king.

Musically the memory of the king lives on,the following Funeral March for the Death of the King LouisXVI by Pavel Wranitzky carries the torch for his majesty.

Pavel Wranitzky


Over two centuries ago Louis Capet was having his prayerbook fetched at six o’clock in the morning.

Say a little prayer for the man.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Posted in Ingres, LACMA, Marie Antoinette, Paul Poiret, Vigee Le Brun on January 3, 2011 by babylonbaroque

The Beloved and I spent a lovely rainy Sunday afternoon exploring the new Resnick Pavilion (not terribly new,as it opened in the Autumn of 2010), part of the seemingly ever expanding Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).Ostensibly the purpose of my visit was to gather images of gowns for my niece Grace, an aspiring fashion plate; LACMA has a current  exhibition Fashioning Fashion:European Dress in Detail, 1700-1915 that has proven to be a marvelous resource of frills,corsets, and frippery.

But amongst the gloomy Olmec Colossi , was an exhibition, Eye for the Sensual:Selections from the Resnick Collection which regrettably was closing that day. A treasure house of beautiful objects, exquisitely crafted  for what seems to be the sole purpose of tickling our covetous instincts. I confess to having trespassed several Commandments, most especially the 10th, multiple times.

I open with a detail of the most exquisite bit of porn Les Sirènes appelant Ulysse

The Sirens Luring Ulysses



Henri Lehmann

As I said both the Fashioning Fashion and the Eye For The Sensual were quite exciting, I will be integrating images from both shows, obviously if it is a pretty bit of embroidery it is from the fashion exhibition.

Sacrifice to Pan


Dirk van der Aa


A Satyr Embracing a Bacchante


Pierre Duval

Sacrifice to Diana



Dirk van der Aa


I am crazy for the hound.

African Venus


Charles Cordier

There is a male companion to the Venus but he lacked her strength and powerful grace; she is quite a marvel.

dress and train




This show-stopper is intended for my niece Grace, it is a crowd pleaser.

Gotta love black and gilt embroidery!




This is NOT intended for Gracie, nor the Belgium fetish bots (1900) in the background.

Grown up pleasures.

From courtesan to courtesan…

Queen Dido Receiving Aeneas on His Arrival at Carthage



Giambattista Crosato




Wild about the yallerish green with candy colored sparkle.

Man’s At- home Cap



If there was one object that I positively needed, it is this cap.

I am quite convinced my paintings would improve if this was part of my studio garb.

The Chinese Ambassador


Jean Barbault


Robe à la française





Paul Poiret

This turban was worn by Poiret’s wife Denise for his legendary party of a century ago, The Thousand and Second Night. The hostess was dressed appropriately as the Queen of the Harem, from the looks of this beauty, Poiret’s fete trumped Capote’s Black & White handily.




Somehow Ingres was to give even  the Blessed Virgin  a covetous appearance, here she is perusing the sacred vessels of the Holy Mass as if she were at the Neiman Marcus jewelry counter.

The Virgin with the Host


Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Perhaps no other woman is more  often accused of breaking the 10th commandment then dear Marie, most famously (and incorrectly) said to desire  this bauble,


I was able to pay homage.

The author in the company of Vigée Le Brun’s portrait of the Queen.

I wish I had this vest when visiting the Queen, she would have enjoyed the pastoral theme.





In the end I am forced to cast aside wordly vanity and desire it produces; I must return to my far humbler studio, and like the Magdalen I hope to be the better person.

At least that is how I justify my situation.

The Magdalen Renouncing Her Worldly Goods


attributed to Carlo Maratta

Wishing you a week rich in visual beauty.

Respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque


Marie Antoinette la Reine Martyre

Posted in 18th century, Basilica of Saint-Denis, Bourbon monarchy, French-American, Jacques Louis David, Kucharski, Marie Antoinette, R.I.P., Vigee Le Brun on October 15, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Before we begin the frivolities of the weekend, I thought it important to remember that tomorrow, October 16th , at 12:15 p.m. marks the 217th anniversary of this great woman’s murder.

Recquiscat in Pace

Queen Marie Antoinette of France

b. 2nd November 1755

d. 16th October 1793, 12:15 pm

Daughter of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria and  Holy Roman Emperor Franz I. Stephan of Austria

ca. 1786

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

Art Institute, Detroit

(of all places)

There are two anniversaries on the annual calendar that  upon my ritual reading of the events causes my heart to ache. The first being the reading of the Passion , the second being the cruelties inflicted upon Marie Antoinette that October morning 1793. Faith and politics aside, both illustrate man’s ability to disregard humanity , particularly shocking when faced with another who has been reduced to abject wretchedness. My great hope is that I would rise above such base behavior, but even Peter found strength elusive.

I love this image of the Queen by Alexandre Kucharski (ca. 1791).

It expresses a great humanity, unlike so many of the “glamour” shoots which we are most familiar with.

The softness of her coloring, the luminous quality of her skin prompting Vigée Le Brun to comment that the Queen’s skin “so transparent that it allowed no shadow,”.

Source: Antonia Fraser

As much as I may admire the subtle humanity captured by Kucharsky, we have all fallen for her  royal public image.

Be it a formal court painting, inspiring reverence and awe,

or a fashion spread, few have been able to ignore her charms ; save for humorless republicans and godless anarchists.

To our very day, folks who share a love of glamour, romance, and style find inspiration in the Martyr Marie.

My dear friend Patrick Ediger of the design house French American has wittily designed a new fabric due out this winter.

It has been dubbed Queen of Pop, I am particularly attracted to the “chandelier” head dress.

Queen of Pop

French American

Winter 2010

click for detail.

As an aspiring artist I am particularly touched by Vigée Le Brun’s remembrance of an awkward moment before the Queen. After having cancelled a sitting with the Queen due to illness, Le Brun went to apologize the next day ;the Queen graciously cancelled her  own scheduled plans for an impromptu sitting. The Queen’s kindness caused Le Brun to fumble .

” I remember that, in my confusion and my eagerness to make a fitting response to her kind words,I opened my paint-box so excited that I spilled my brushes on the floor. I stooped down to pick them up. “Never mind, never mind,” said the Queen, and for aught I could say, she insisted on picking them all up herself…”. source

Le Brun, a favored and ridiculously prolific court painter, remained true to the memory of Her Majesty. Her allegiance complicated matters when the upstart Napoleon sat upon the republican throne.

Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun

b. 16th March 1755

d. 30th March 1842

If interested her fascinating memoir is easily downloaded.

In the early hours of October 16th 1793, Marie Antoinette demonstrated her courage and faith in a final letter to her sister-in law, Madame Elizabeth:

“October 16. 4:40 in the morning

I have just been condemned to death, not to a shameful death, that can only be for criminals, but in order to rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to demonstrate the same firmness as he did at the end. I am calm, as people are whose conscience is clear. My deepest regret is at having to abandon our poor children; you know that I only lived on for them and for you, my good and tender sister.”

source: Marie Antoinette, the Journey, Antonia Frazer, pg. 436

Denying the Queen the dignity of Widows Weeds, “Antoinette Capet”was forced to wear a common white dress. The trip to the guillotine was designed to be a trail of humiliation.

The Queen would defy their base intentions.

The hateful David took pleasure in depicting the Queen in her final humiliating moments. Her critics saw imperial Hapsburg haughtiness, justification for their cruel perversions; I see a woman of great breeding, brutally shorn of hair, a sad cap with a few black ribbons of morning, a body and spirit broken, forced to sit in a donkey cart. Willful hatefulness only elicited dignity from this great Queen.

Final sketch by the odious David.

Her breeding and innate kindness apparent even as she approached the blade. Having stepped upon her executioner’s foot, she instinctively apologized, ” I did not do it on purpose”.

For all of her perceived  “sins” that is perhaps a fitting response.

True to the Catholic faith , she chided the false priest Abbé Girard when he suggested she gather her courage.

This great Queen , daughter of the great Empress Maria Theresia did not require this traitor’s words of encouragement.

“Courage! The moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.”

Well put dear Queen.

Much of her reputation has been restored, aside from the tiresome”cake” references, many folks hold a tender place in their hearts for this unfortunate woman.

Her final resting spot, the Basilica of Saint-Denis.


So tomorrow, no matter what your time zone, a t 12:15 pm give a “shout-out ” to dear Marie Antoinette.

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!

Viva la Reine!

Have a great weekend.

Respectfully submitted,


image sources

Recquiscat in Pace Princesse de Lamballe

Posted in 18th century, Bourbon monarchy, Marie Antoinette, Princesse de Lamballe, Sans-culotte on September 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

How the hell I let the 3rd pass without honoring Marie Antoinette’s greatest friend, I haven’t a clue.

But today is that great lady’s birthday, so she must be honored, happy 218th birthday sweet Princesse.

On September 3rd 1792 Princesse de Lamballe was brutally murdered and mutilated by roving mobs of madmen, primarily the sans culottes, hungry for “liberty” and blood.  Please refer to sidebar for more info on the Sans Culottes.

Princess Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy -Carignan, Princess of Lamballe

b. September 8th 1749

d. September 3rd 1792

Her end, part of a wave of horror known as the September Massacres, was a violent bloody affair. God knows her final thoughts , loyal to the end to her great friends, Marie and Louis,  she was separated from Marie earlier in “92. A pity for both women to have lost the companionship of one another when it was needed most urgently.

The evil crowds blaspheming her in name and ultimately in body , placed her head upon a pike. A grisly gift they thought fit for a Divine Sovereign.

Recquiscat in Pace dear Princesse.

It is also appropriate to remember the others martyred defending the Faith : the 24 True priests, massacred on route to the prison/Abbe of Saint Germain, the  150 other priests brutally murdered in a Carmelite sanctuary, the brave-hearted Swiss Guard, the average common Catholic, loyal to his King and his God.

Pax Vobiscum

The Sans-culotte, the People’s Choice

Posted in 18th century, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Sans-culotte on August 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

In fairness I thought we ought to explore the working drones of the Third Estate, the sans-culotte.

the Bonnet Rouge

The sans-culotte, with their pantaloons ,utilitarian skirts and modest fichu  obviously lack the glamour of our beloved Aristo-loving Merveliluisse and Incroyables; that said a visual journey is in order to gain a greater understanding of what happened during the course of a few bloody years.

As members of the Third Estate, which represented 95 percent of France’s population at the time, their garb was in sharp contrast to aristocratic fashion. As the Revolution progressed, nobility pared down the sumptuous aspects of their apparel. Even poor dear Louis XVI was forced to don the Phrygian cap ( bonnet rouge).

My heart breaks for the Queen, she was mortified. From what I have read Louis was more pragmatic about the situation, perhaps recognizing more vividly the symbolic power this silly little cockaded hat had .

The symbolism of the cockade’s coloring represented moderate forces at work; the white of his Majesty mingled with the red and blue of France.

Too bad the red became more emblematic of spilt blood.

The Phrygian cap of course has noble and ancient roots, long associated with the liberty loving Phrygians.

Bust of Attis

2nd century

Hadrian’s reign

This bust is thought to bear a resemblence to his beloved Antinous, certainly  a pretty boy.

If Lady Liberté felt it prudent to adorn herself with the Bonnet Rouge;mere mortals with less radical notions also felt it wise to blend in with the Great Unwashed.The coiffures so admired and emblematic of the now despised ancien regime, had fallen deeply out of favor.

Street fashion became THE fashion.

Armed to the teeth and itchin’ for a fight.

Note how the lower class women were free to expose  their ankles.

A rather romantic image of a sans-culotte, a fresh clean, blood-less pike,

as of yet…

This fellow seems more prepared for the September Massacres of ’92.

I may never forgive the sans-culotte, anymore then I can understand Bastille Day, but I do want to understand and appreciate the oppression that drove such mind-numbing violence.  Those living abroad, including the Brits were baffled by the savagery . Political cartoons appeared lampooning the revolutionary excesses.

Gallows humor perhaps.

political cartoon

George Cruishank



I really like the Mad Guillotine complete with a bonnet rouge.

Another cartoon by Cruishank follows.

Again, the same marvelously animated Death Machines.

Dancing about the Liberty Tree, note Bastille looming in the background.

British cartoon


After the September Massacres of 1792, the British were particularly disturbed by the barbarity.

We were fortunate that our own quest for liberty was far less bloody.

As we continue our quest for democracy, the image of the sans-culotte still has relevance. In my research I stumbled upon this image from Irag. I thought it a fitting end for this conversation. Please check out the site from which this arresting image was pulled, IraqWar.html

Good Night Gentle Citoyen.

Bastille Day, a dark cloud overhead.

Posted in 18th century, Bastille Day, Bourbon monarchy, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette on July 13, 2010 by babylonbaroque

France may celebrate this day, the anniversary of the storming of  the Bastille, July 14th 1789; but for this particular Monarchist smug and snug in the States, it is a dark day.

I can only imagine the anxiety Louis felt when he realized that the unthinkable had begun, did he try to hide the reality from the Queen, how long did they cling to denial. I read the sad, sad tale over and over, always hoping it will end differently. Hoping that their get-away carriage will at last bring them to safety, but like Violetta in La Traviata, there is never a happy ending.

In that spirit I put together this little daub, a watercolor play on the famous portrait of the Queen by Le Brun, I pretentiously titled it “The Death of Monarchy”.

don’t snicker when you see the Le Brun.

Maria Antoinette a la Rose (aged 28)

b. November 2nd 1755

d. October 16th 1793

12:15 p.m.

painted by  Louise Elizabeth Vigee le Brun, a loyal friend to the Queen

I can only view this day as a day of foreboding , the scandalous images that surrounded the Queen, the humiliation the King had to endure, this day was the beginning of the Terror.

I prefer to remember them like this :

Louis XVI

b. August 23rd 1754

d. January 21st 1793

by Antoine Francois Callet

Soon enough poor Louis would meet his fate in ’93.

and the traitorous David would make one last sketch of the blessed Queen, later that year.

Happy Bastille Day

monument to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Saint Denis Basilica

Marie Antoinette’s Shabbos Chair/Week 13

Posted in 18th century, Marie Antoinette, Menuisier Sene' on May 14, 2010 by babylonbaroque

Switching centuries for a moment, parting momentarily from my beloved 19th century, to explore anew the 18th century.

I am in the process of moving, packing away my library. In doing so, I realized how heavy, literally and figuratively, my collection leans towards all things dealing with  the Ancien Regime. Instead of diligently packing I was gazing adoringly at our fair Queen.

In honor of her Majesty, I will highlight this very lovely chair. So very much NOT a product of the 19th. century.


ca. 1785-1790

Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sene’


Carved walnut,painted white and grey and partly gilt, modern upholstery, modern castors.

Victoria & Albert

Although unclear, this chair was most likely made for St. Cloud. Sene’ provided the Queen with similar chairs to Versailles and the Tuileries, but it appears to resemble a St. Cloud set.

Although the upholstery is modern, it is based upon a wax model from 1780.I have seen charming clay mockups of chairs, always enchanting. To see the delightful swags in silk is a joy.

I am at all moments a sucker for gessoes furniture, particularly in creamy white and French grey, partly gilt?, I’m hopelessly lost.

The Queens monogram is visible, just in case you were wondering who the chair belonged.

The St. Cloud set has a sphinx -head motif, this chair has the bust of Diana.

Really shockingly beautiful attention to detail. Love the little crescent mood, alluding to the goddess.

The beauty continues, this is a detail of the leg. The chair initially had small bun feet. Hacked off in 1895, replaced with castors.


I love castor-ed chairs, but how the hell do you mutilate such a chair. Now that the damage has been done, I do fancy the castors, so very handy.

This chair was recorded in a St.Cloud inventory , 1789. It will pop up at a bankruptcy sale in 1837, it’s history will continue until it finally reaches the V&A. I imagine the poor chair misses the Queen’s tush.

Marie Antoinette Josephe Jeanne de Habsbourg-Lorraine

2nd November 1755-16th October 1793


Elizabeth Vigee’ Lebrun