Posts Tagged ‘memoirs’

Marie Antoinette a la rose by Vigee Lebrun

Marie-Antoinette and Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun: the Queen and the painter

Without Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s many portraits of Marie-Antoinette, our mental image of the Queen would be different, so iconic have these paintings become. All the more reason to look into the relationship between the two ladies. And what better way to do so than return to Madame Lebrun’s Memoirs? It was in the year 1779, she […]



Pauline Bonaparte by Robert Lefevre

Napoléon and Pauline Bonaparte: incest?

Researching For The King entailed delving more than once into the Memoirs of Joseph Fouché, Duc d’Otrante, Napoléon’s Minister of General Police (and many other things besides.) Here is what Fouché has to say about Pauline: Of Napoléon’s three sisters, Elisa, Caroline et Pauline, the latter, famous for her allurements, was the one of whom […]



Grace Elliott Gainsborough Met

Grace Dalrymple Elliott

I had long wanted to post on this extremely interesting figure, who makes a cameo appearance in my first novel, Mistress of the Revolution. Then a discussion began at Ellen’s Eighteenth Century Worlds on the topic of Grace Elliott and her Journal of my life during the French Revolution. Ellen kindly summarized the discussions  at […]



Jane Austen Cassandra Austen

A Memoir of Jane Austen, by James Edward Austen-Leigh

For decades I read and reread Jane Austen’s novels and yet refused to touch any biographies or scholarly analysis of her works. Why? I guess I wanted to preserve an unmitigated access to her. She was to remain my Jane Austen. How wrong I was! I have come full circle and joined online lists. I […]



Vigee Lebrun Caroline Bonaparte Madame Murat

Painting Caroline Bonaparte’s portrait, by Madame Vigée-Lebrun

Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun is best remembered today for being Marie-Antoinette’s favorite portraitist. In fact her career went on for decades, with unabated success, after she left France in October 1789, at the very beginning of the French Revolution. For years Madame Lebrun traveled to Italy, Germany, England and Russia, where she enjoyed the patronage of the […]



Tuileries during the French Revolution

The 10th of August 1792: fall of the French monarchy

The 10th of August 1792 is one of the key dates of the French Revolution. Why was the populace of Paris so enraged at the King and Queen? The war on Austria had been declared a few months earlier, and had turned into a military disaster for France. The Austrians and their Prussian allies were […]



Madame Victoire Roslin

Madame Victoire and Lent

I told you we would return to the daughters of Louis XV before long.  So let’s go back once again to Madame Campan’s remembrances of Madame Victoire: Madame Victoire, kind, sweet-tempered and affable, lived with the most amiable simplicity within a society that cherished her; she was adored by her household. Without quitting Versailles, without […]



Marie Antoinette wedding

18th century bridal attire

A question that crops up once in a while. As often on this blog we will refer to the Memoirs of the Marquise de La Tour du Pin, who was married in the 1780s and thus recalls her wedding day: Let us not forget the bride’s attire. It was very simple. I had a dress […]



Madame Sophie Nattier

Madame Sophie, daughter of Louis XV

Sophie Philippe Elisabeth Justine is the most elusive of the daughters of Louis XV and Marie Leszczynska. Born in 1734, one year after Victoire, Sophie was shipped to the Abbey of Fontevraud with her and their two younger sisters, Thérése, two years old, and baby Louise, only eleven months old! Madame Sophie, even after her […]



Marie Therese 1780 Troy

Let them eat cake?

That is one of the questions I am often asked: did Marie-Antoinette really say Let them eat cake? Actually the full sentence is French is Qu’ils mangent de la brioche! or, literally, Let them eat brioche! I guess cake was more familiar to English speakers than brioche, a form of French bread enriched with eggs […]