Sunday, November 9, 2008

Empress Eugenie and Marie Antoinette

Portrait of the Empress Eugenie dressed as Marie Antoinette by Franz Xaver Winterhaller, 1854, oil on canvas (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City)

The Empress Eugenie collected objects and memorabilia associated with Marie Antoinette and housed them in the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Her fascination with the Queen extended to dressing like her as evidenced by this 1854 portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The Empress stands in a garden of lilacs, wearing a deep yellow taffeta gown trimmed with black bows and blue ribbons, rope of pearls, fringes and tassels in the Rococo Revival style. Her hair had been powdered white and adorned with ribbons and a feather ornament. This painting has been compared to the 1787 painting of Queen Marie Antoinette in the Park at Versailles by Adolph-Ulrich Wertmuller.

On another occasion in 1866, Eugenie attended a ball wearing a gown copied from a portrait of Marie Antoinette painted by Elizabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun in 1787. After the ball, it was written "...An empress of others, not the French, perhaps of some fairy place such as Baden. If you wish, Marie Antoinette at the Mabille."