The Unofficial Portraits of the Queen


We all have a bad hair day, it usually happens during the prom night or a wedding day or on some other equally memorable occasion. Cameras are ready to project our wild looks into the future! Cameras do have a sense of humor. Photographers, on the other hand, don’t. Look at them trying to please everyone with their photo, but that one had blinked, this one has… a stomach ache…; unfortunately, painters do not have the same excuse. What do they have? Nothing but venom. Not all the painters. But today I invite you to take a look at Marie-Antoinette bitten by some real vipers.

The first such an artist is Gautier-Dagoty. Madam Campan in her diaries gave him so much verbal abuse, that in the end she could not name him. She assured us that all the people of good taste had shared her view. That is what I like to see, a methodologically admissible convergent opinion! No matter if over a course of time it does not seem so objective; for today this cursed paining does belong to the collection of the Chateau Versailles. How did it come about? Gautier-Dagoty was invited to paint something to be sent to the Queen’s mom. Needless to say the masterpiece had never made it to Austria. And the official reason for this decision not to send is a lack of talent in the painter! I am not sure. I am not sure if we should place the work in the ranks of caricatures, but for sure its humor spares nobody in the room, the bedroom, actually: you cannot see it very well, but the bed is on the right. The details are killing! Look, the painter had to wear a sword for those sessions! The windows are shut! And that giant round mirror! Gautier-Dagoty is a snake with a capital S.

Next is a miniature by François Dumont, and the word in the street has it that it belonged to Louis XVI himself and he kept it on his person till the last. You have probably figured it out by now that any time the painter chose to be flattering, he painted the Queen’s profile, that is in spite of her eagle nose and the regal double-chin. Well, let us work with what we’ve got. Yet the poor husband must have been getting tired of the famous chin. So here it was made go away. Sort of…. At least the nose did. Somewhat…. The artist chose to show us the Queen’s chest, neck and head S-curve. Br-r-r! After the King’s execution the miniature had made it back to the Queen. She did not want to see it, and gave the picture to her lawyer!

Now is my all-time favorite. This is the moment I should be silent. Just like the Queen herself. She actually tried to pass it without any comment. But they would not let her. So she had to say that she did not recognize herself. I love it when women do that. It happened to be an official event and her presence at the exhibition was expected; so, let us see it more like an ambush! Yea, baby, it is you! Woof! The name of the author is Adolphe-Ulrich Wertmuller. The man is… he is the man….

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About versaillesgossip, before and after Francis Ponge

The author of the blogs Versailles Gossip and Before and After Francis Ponge, Vadim Bystritski lives and teaches in Brest France. The the three main themes of his literary endeavours are humor, the French Prose Poetry, the French XVII and XVIII Century Art and History. His writings and occasionally art has been published in a number of ezines (Eratio, Out of Nothing, Scars TV, etc). He also contributes to Pinterest where he comments on the artifiacts from the Louvre and other collections. Some of his shorter texts are in Spanish, Russian and French.
This entry was posted in Chateau Versailles, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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