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Marie-Antoinette and her children

Painting, 1787, 215×275 cm

Description of the artwork «Marie-Antoinette and her children»

Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun written a total of not less than thirty portraits of the French Queen Marie-Antoinette, the most famous of which depicts the wife of Louis XVI, together with her children.

On the one hand, we have before us a formal portrait with all necessary attributes – pomp garments, draperies and columns in the background and accentuated the luxury of the situation that Vigee-Lebrun gives with a female scrupulousness in details. On the other hand, a formal portrait as a genre does not imply the presence of children, and even three. The Russian monarch, for example, it is difficult to imagine is depicted in the company of their minor heirs. Even if you can imagine such a thing, then it was not a formal portrait – more about the genre.

But Marie-Antoinette's portraits first recall surrounded by her children. First of all, of course, comes to mind "The attack of the mob on the Tuileries" famous painting by an unknown artist, where Marie-Antoinette closes himself from an angry mob of frightened children is one of the most poignant illustrations of irreversible violence of the revolution. But as was the case with her portraits and prior to the revolutionary cataclysms: portraits of the Queen, written by the court painter Vigee-Lebrun, including depict Marie Antoinette surrounded by children.

Perhaps the established Canon to write the Queen together with heirs (1, 2), established due to the fact that children of Marie-Antoinette has been suffered. As you know, for seven years of their dynastic marriage with Louis XVI was barren. The reason for this was known to the rest of the French court, the Dauphin suffered from phimosis (narrowing of the foreskin), but being extremely timid, could not decide on the surgery. The humiliation of the situation had a negative impact on the character of Marie-Antoinette – she was hysterical tenacity to indulge in unrestrained debauchery (later the extravagance of Marie-Antoinette will be the reason to accuse her of all the troubles of France). However, in the end, Louis XVI agreed to the surgery, all went well, and the French monarchy appeared the long-awaited heirs that is their misfortune, after the Revolution no longer need the French Republic.

The older girl, Maria Theresia-Charlotte, clings to mother, with silent adoration looking at her, and little Sophia, Beatrice, beside whose cradle is the Dauphin Louis-Joseph, is sitting in the hands of Marie-Antoinette. But the picture, despite the story (and contrary to the usual sentimental manner Vigee-Lebrun), does not seem idyllic. Perhaps the point here is in sharp contrast to the dark Drapes and almost black ceiling with a disturbingly red velvet dress Queen. Or the lack of "touching" is explained by the fact that none of the four characters in the picture we see the smiles – even children too serious.

In retrospect we can ascribe the painting a premonition of the imminent and terrible turmoil (only in some 4 years, Marie-Antoinette is tried and beheaded). And although it would be too big a stretch, due to our knowledge of the unenviable future of the French monarchy, still find it hard not to recall and the recognition of Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun "I was rarely wrong in their predictions, looking at the expression on the faces of their vis-à-vis".

Author: Anna Yesterday
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Rococo

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1787

Size: 215×275 cm

Artwork in selections: 12 selections

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