Friday, May 10, 2019

Madame Elisabeth de France (1764-1794)

I don’t know why it is, but I am always ready to hope. Do not imitate me; it is better to fear without reason than to hope without it; the moment when the eyes open is less painful.  

–Madame Elisabeth, 1789. 

Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène de France, better known as Madame Élisabeth, was executed by guillotine on May 10th, 1794. Élisabeth had chosen to remain with her brother and the rest of the royal family during the revolution and was imprisoned in the Temple Tower alongside them in the fall of 1792. She was brought before Revolutionary Tribunal on May 9th, 1794 and was condemned to death along with 23 other men and women.

Élisabeth was the last of the group to die; according to witnesses, she offered every one of the prisoners encouraging words and recited the De profundis until she mounted the scaffold.

After being strapped to the plank of the guillotine, her fichu came loose, exposing her; her last words were “In the name of your mother, monsieur, cover me.”

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Pen and Sword offering free eBooks to coincide with the 198th anniversary of Napoleon's death

Free Books About Napoleon!

Pen and Sword is giving away four Napoleon related eBooks for free through Amazon Kindle to coincide with the 198th anniversary of Napoleon's death. The links below are to the site but they are available for free through (at least) Amazon UK as well; availability on other Amazon platforms may vary. This is a rare opportunity so be sure to get those downloads in!

1815: The Waterloo Campaign Vol I by John Hussey

In Napoleon's Shadow: The Memoirs of Louis-Joseph Marchand, Valet and Friend of the Emperor 1811–1821 by Louis-Joseph Marchand

Letters from the Battle of Waterloo: Unpublished Correspondence by Allied Officers from the Siborne Papers by Gareth Glover and John Hussey

With Eagles to Glory: Napoleon and his German Allies in the 1809 Campaign by John H. Gill

Friday, April 26, 2019

Film Friday: Two screenshots form Marie Antoinette (1938)

Introducing Film Friday: a day for sharing movie stills, production art, film analysis and anything film related!

 Marie Antoinette (1938)

Marie Antoinette (1938)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Book Thursday: The cover for the second book in the 'Marie-Antoinette et ses soeurs' series by Anne-Marie Desplat-Duc

Book Thursday: a day for anything and everything books; reviews, highlights, and more.

Marie-Antoinette et ses soeurs (Marie Antoinette and her sisters) is a new French children's novel series from author Anne-Marie Desplat-Duc. The first book was released in February and this second book is set to be released at the beginning of May. The cover was recently put on Amazon--isn't it adorable? The series will follow the adventures of a young Marie Antoinette in her home country of Austria.
Book 2 can be preordered from

Monday, April 15, 2019

Music Monday: Versailles by Nadia Bouluanger

Music Monday: a day for contemporary music, soundtracks and other tunes related to Marie Antoinette.

For this Music Monday, I'd like to share a piece from Nadia Boulanger, a notable composer, conductor and teacher who taught some of the most prominent composers of the 20th century. Her students included Louise Talma, Elaine Bearer, Virgil Thomson, Roy Harris, Philip Glass--just to name a few.

'Versailles' was composed by Boulanger in 1906. She set her composition the text 'O Versailles,' a poem by Albert Samain. The performer in this particular recording is Nicole Cabell, with Lucy Mauro on the piano.

The original French text for Albert Samain's O Versailles can be read here.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What They Said Saturday: "Fatigued by the splendors of art, I turn to nature..."

'What They Said' Saturday: a day for quotations of all kinds, including excerpts from letters written by Marie Antoinette and her contemporaries, memoirs, non-fiction, novels and everything in between.

image: the hameau de la reine in August 1967/credit: Daniel Villafruela/CC BY-SA 3.0, no modifications

The recent restoration work done on the hameau de la Reine has sparked new focus on the charming, picturesque hamlet that Marie Antoinette cultivated during her final years at Versailles. But it is not only modern visitors who are charmed by its roaming trails and carefully planned foliage.

Nikolay Karamzin, a visitor who was able to tour the hameau de la reine during those last waning years of the French monarchy, wrote touchingly of the estate:

"I advance and I see hills, fields, meadows, herds, a grotto. Fatigued by the splendors of art, I turn to nature; I find myself, my heart, my imagination; I breathe, inhaling the perfumed air of the evening, gazing at the setting sun … I would like to stop it in its course, in order to remain longer at Trianon."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Chemise Portrait in 'Le Versailles secret de Marie-Antoinette'

Among the more memorable visuals from the recent docudrama Le Versailles secret de Marie-Antoinette (2018), which was released to coincide with the re-opening of the newly restored Queen's House at the Petit Trianon, was this homage to the most well-known (and infamous) portrait of Marie Antoinette 'en gaulle.' Or, as it has become known today, the the 'Chemise Portrait.'

image: a side-by-side look at the chemise portrait and a still from Le Versailles Secret de Marie-Antoinette

The public display of this portrait caused a stir. One critic wrote of the portrait:
"Many people have found it offensive to see these august persons revealed to the public wearing clothes reserved for the privacy of the palace."
The contemporary criticism against the portrait 'en gaulle' was not just that the Queen was wearing these casual fashions at all (as critics hotly  remarked that she had been painted in her chemise, as in undergarments) but also that she dared to show herself wearing one in a public portrait display that was meant to be reserved for royal portraits which clearly signified the wearer's status through sumptuous clothing and other royal regalia. The unassuming portrait bears no markers of "queen" and indeed, if we did not know who the sitter was, it could be any one of the well-to-do women from this era who donned the soft white gowns that are today irrecoverably linked with Marie Antoinette through their name alone: chemise a la reine.