Thursday's Visual Treat - Day 4/ The Theme of Royalty


Have we all been too hasty in our condemnation of the little queen?  Did we without much cajoling or prompting become part of a mob mentality, and similar to many others, senselessly rush forward to sling insult, to throw rock, or worse yet--pass silent judgement on a woman still misunderstood by history.  Who among us did undertake any additional search, any attempt at understanding the reason for her remark:  "Let them eat cake!"
Noted historian Lady Antonia Frazer kindly points out that 'cake' in the time of 18th century France would have been a robust, hearty, family-sized bread roll and possibly enriched with eggs and butter; when served with a drink of sorts it would have been the equivalent of a complete meal.  It is quite uncharacteristic of Marie Antoinette to have been so callous or so dismissive upon hearing of the famine, as she had always maintained a relationship of great sensitivity and compassion to the commoners.   Additionally, dates of published public records, as well as the writings of various scholars and poets cannot place the remark to Her Highness, but instead to another royal person, and approximately 18 years earlier.  Marie Antoinette was routinely suspected of 'improper' relations with numerous foreign diplomats, and guilty of overspending on her various estates and homes; she had a voracious appetite for jewels, gowns, shoes, gloves and hats; and showed a remarkable zeal for masked balls, garden fetes, the opera, the races, and other forms of costly entertainment.  Yet, these behaviors which we now frown upon, were perfectly acceptable within Louis XVI's court, and was expected if one was to fulfill the duties of one appointed position.  More damming to the flirtatious and pretty Marie Antoinette was the fact that she was an Austrian national residing within an extremely xenophobic and chauvinistic French court.  On the occasion of her execution, the French queen carefully selected her ensemble, choosing a simple white frock devoid of ornamentation and suggestive of a certain piety.


PS:  The photo above shows a still from Sophia Coppola's gorgeously designed and brilliantly photographed movie-Marie Antoinette.  Actress Kirsten Dunst narrowly avoids artifice, and instead emotes ennui within a fairy-tale salon of pastel sweetness.


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