marie antoinette


The beauty secrets of Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette, Mosnier, 1775. Photo: Christie’s/Private Collection. At the end of her life as she waited for death in the Conciergerie, Marie Antoinette’s cosmetics were reduced to a tarnished mirror, a swansdown puff with some powder and a vial of scented water. As she patted the powder onto her already pallid cheeks, she must have reflected with some wonder and sadness about the fact that not too long ago, her toilette had been one of the high points of the court day at Versailles, attended by dozens of courtiers, all vying for attention and dictated by an arcane and complex […]


The death of the Princesse de Lamballe

During a recent visit to Paris, I made a point of walking past the spot on the junction of the Rue du Roi de Sicile and Rue Pavée where the entrance to La Force prison would have been in the 1790s. It was here that on the 3rd of September 1792, Marie Antoinette’s friend and Superintendent of her Household, the Princesse de Lamballe was delivered by a kangaroo court set up in the prison hall to a gang of murderers and self designated ‘executioners’ that waited outside. The unfortunate Princess had been packed off to the grim La Force prison […]


Marie Antoinette’s wedding dress

‘It didn’t take us long to reach the royal chapel and there was a small awkward pause as my ladies came forward to tweak my full skirts and, clicking their tongues disapprovingly against their teeth, do their best to hide the wide expanse of lacing at my back, which revealed that my beautiful cloth of silver dress, made from measurements sent from Vienna several months earlier, was far too small for me. ‘Good luck,’ Madame de Mailly whispered when the ladies in waiting finally melted back again, their wide silk and brocade skirts rustling against the marble floor. ‘You look […]


Marie Antoinette’s beauty secrets

At the end of her life, Marie Antoinette’s cosmetics were reduced to a tarnished mirror, a swansdown puff with some powder and a vial of scented water. As she patted the powder onto her already pallid cheeks, she must have reflected with some wonder and sadness about the fact that not too long ago, her toilette had been one of the high points of the court day, attended by dozens of courtiers, all vying for attention and dictated by an arcane and complex etiquette that had been handed down for generations. Ironic then that Marie Antoinette’s own tastes inclined towards […]