12.3.08

The Jewels of Marie-Antoinette

Elena-Maria Vidal has placed an article in her blog about the jewels of Marie-Antoinette. Marie has ofttimes been lambasted by the historically elite as having been a spendthrift. While this may have been true for the newly married Dauphine it was not true for La Reine. Marie-Antoinette was, as we are reminded by the contemporary sources, an Austrian Princess. It is not to the taste of Austrians to be overly ostentatious, they can be simple to the point of severity. In any event Marie-Antoinette attempted to alleviate the debts of her household by selling much of her jewelry, (as well as her silverware, and plates) in order to be less of a burden upon her people. It was to no avail, scurrilous pamphlets circulated, many of which were printed by her relatives who thought themselves better suited to be the sovereign than Louis XVI. Much has also been said of her extravagance in dresses, again not true, a fabrication to show how unfeeling she was towards her subjects. Yet, of Josephine Beauharnais, wife of the ci-disant "Emperor of the French" who really did buy a hundred dresses a year, thousands of francs worth of jewelry, who had affairs, (her husband was no better), nothing is even mentioned. My diatribe against the Ogre has made me stray from the article...

The Jewels of Marie-Antoinette

Historical novelist Catherine Delors provides some information about the fate of the French crown jewels, particularly a certain famous diamond. Madame Delors has thoroughly researched the French royal family and the Revolution; I look forward to reading her new novel. It is well-known that Marie-Antoinette had a fondness for diamonds, although she never even thought of purchasing Boehmer's necklace of the scandal; she preferred the money to be spent on ships for the French navy. The diamond necklace was not to her taste, anyway, which tended towards light, aerial creations. More...

Above is a portrait of Marie-Antoinette by Elziabeth Vigee-Le Brun. Enlarge it to see her jewelry. Click on the artist's name above and see a gallery of Marie-Antoinette. Elizabeth Vigee-Le Brun painted some 30 portraits of her from 1779 to 1783. The portraits reflect Marie-Antoinette at her apex. You won't see much of the purported jewelry. Now look at Josephine. Don't women who are painted wear their best things?

Merci et remerci Elena-Maria.
de Brantigny

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