Monday, October 24, 2011

Marie Antoinette - Magnifique!

I have always been drawn to the story of Marie Antoinette.  There is something both beautiful and tragic about her life and death.  This post is a pictorial look at her life and legacy.....

"Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna" was not French.  She was born in Austria in 1755, the youngest daughter of the Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia.  She was generally addressed as 'Madame Antoine' at the Austrian court.

Marie Antoinette came to France in 1770 as a 15 year old to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis-Auguste, later known as Louis XVI of France.   Louis-Auguste was unable to consummate the marriage for 7 years.

Marie Antoinette lived at Versaille, the centre of the French court, also the centre of fashion, music, wit, intrigue and scandal.  Back then, everything was big....the hair, the hats and the dresses....
Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine in October 1793, two weeks before her 38th birthday.  On the morning of her execution her hair was cut and she was dressed in a simple white muslin dress to be paraded through the streets of Paris.  The only words spoken at her execution were 'Monsieur, I beg your pardon' as she apologised to the executioner for stepping on his foot.  

One of the best biographies I have read about the life of Marie Antoinette is 'Marie Antoinette, The Journey' by Antonia Fraser.  It gives a fascinating insight into her marriage, her romances and court life at Versailles.
One of my favourite movies ever is Sofia Coppola's 2006 movie, "Marie Antoinette", starring Kirsten Dunst.  The decadence, lavishness and at times, silliness, of the period are perfectly captured by the sets and costumes in the movie.  It's a visual feast for the eyes with a modern twist to the telling.
Marie Antoinette died 5 years after the First Fleet arrived in Australia.  It's fair to imagine that the ships travelling between England and Botany Bay carried the news of her arrest and execution and it would have been talked about and discussed even here in the new colony.

Over 200 years later, the life of Marie Antoinette and the fashions of the court of Versaille, are still inspiring art and fashion today.  Vive` Marie!


  1. Lovely. Just lovely. Sigh. A far cry from the lives we live now! Oh to sit around trying on shoes in a room full of cake!

    I find it amusing that we pine for lives like this. To wear the big dresses, have our hair styled into sculptures and be wooed by dashing men in tights sounds divine. But in reality, back in the 1770s, we were all probably the maids and the wet nurses for people like this!

    But it sure is fun to imagine what it might have been like. Now where was I? Oh yes, playgroup rosters, sandwiches and getting a baby to sleep. Sigh *shuffles away*

  2. I just sent you a little message on Facebook, Eloise (a mutual friend in real life recommended your blog). I just realised you may not get it unless you check your "Other" messages folder...Marie Antoinette is just one more thing we have in common, I loved the Antonia Fraser book and Sofia Coppola movie too. My mum's just been in France and she sent me many little MA knick knacks too. :) Great blog!


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