Title

Marie-Antoinette and the Construction of Royal Feminine Identity in the Portraits of Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Merrill Schleier

Abstract/Artist Statement

In an attempt to clear her name, French Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) created her own royal feminine identity through the use of propagandist portraiture. She enlisted the help of portraitist Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun (1755-1842) to create images that represented her as an intellectual, a revolutionary and a caring mother. The relationship between Vigee-Le Brun and Marie-Antoinette is significant because patrons and portraitists are often male, whereas these portraits are the result of the collaboration of two women. By the use of symbolic objects, settings, and costumes, both women constructed a unique royal feminine identity that continually changed in accordance with historical events. Each image is tailored to promote Marie Antoinette's popularity through eighteenth century notions of public advertising. The commissions were meant to counter Marie-Antoinette's negative reputation and highlight both the private and public roles that she was expected to fulfill. For Marie-Antoinette, creating propaganda paintings that adapted to the changing attitudes of the French people was an important political strategy.

Location

Wendell Phillips Center, Room 146

Start Date

3-5-2008 9:00 AM

End Date

3-5-2008 12:30 PM

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May 3rd, 9:00 AM May 3rd, 12:30 PM

Marie-Antoinette and the Construction of Royal Feminine Identity in the Portraits of Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun

Wendell Phillips Center, Room 146

In an attempt to clear her name, French Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) created her own royal feminine identity through the use of propagandist portraiture. She enlisted the help of portraitist Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Le Brun (1755-1842) to create images that represented her as an intellectual, a revolutionary and a caring mother. The relationship between Vigee-Le Brun and Marie-Antoinette is significant because patrons and portraitists are often male, whereas these portraits are the result of the collaboration of two women. By the use of symbolic objects, settings, and costumes, both women constructed a unique royal feminine identity that continually changed in accordance with historical events. Each image is tailored to promote Marie Antoinette's popularity through eighteenth century notions of public advertising. The commissions were meant to counter Marie-Antoinette's negative reputation and highlight both the private and public roles that she was expected to fulfill. For Marie-Antoinette, creating propaganda paintings that adapted to the changing attitudes of the French people was an important political strategy.