When I saw this at the British Museum my roommate didn’t quite understand why I fell silent and closed my eyes. This gold locket contains the hair of Marie Antoinette.
I was browsing through Selfridges with my mum about a month ago and we ran across the Marie Antoinette candles and wax bust in the Cire Trudon store.
We couldn’t justify spending £56.50 on a candle that we would never light and a wax bust that we wouldn’t do anything with but it’s beautiful to look at!
“Cire Trudon has lit the gilded halls of Versailles as well as the face of its most iconic Queen, Marie Antoinette. Cire Trudon in return presents the new Wax Bust collection, including this ivory bust, featuring enchanting wax portraits in the memory of men, women and children who have marked our history. Cire Trudon has brought back to life the lovely tradition of wax sculptures to be collected rather than consumed.”
Author: Peter Kintzing (1745-1816) and David Roentgen (1743-1807)
Characteristics/Origins: Steel, wood, ivory, brass, textile. Paris, musée des Arts et Métiers – Conservatoire national des arts et métiers © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam, Paris/photo Philippe Hurlin
“This famous android was a collaborative effort by two Germans. Clockmaker Peter Kintzing created the mechanism and joiner David Roentgen crafted the cabinet; the dress dates from the 19th century.* Automatons were in circulation and aroused much curiosity. Roentgen probably sent the tympanum to the French court and Marie-Antoinette bought it in 1784. The queen, aware of its perfection and scientific interest, had it deposited in the Academy of Sciences cabinet in 1785. The tympanum is a musical instrument that plays eight tunes when the female android strikes the 46 strings with two little hammers. Tradition has it that she is a depiction of Marie-Antoinette.”
* I’m curious about that. I wonder if perhaps it was a typo and they meant 18th century instead?
Marie Antoinette’s farewell letter to her sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth. The letter was not sent, but passed around by revolutionary officials.
16th October, 4.30 A.M.
It is to you, my sister, that I write for the last time. I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals, but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments. I am calm, as one is when one’s conscience reproaches one with nothing. I feel profound sorrow in leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister. You who out of love have sacrificed everything to be with us, in what a position do I leave you! I have learned from the proceedings at my trial that my daughter was separated from you. Alas! poor child; I do not venture to write to her; she would not receive my letter. I do not even know whether this will reach you. Do you receive my blessing for both of them. I hope that one day when they are older they may be able to rejoin you, and to enjoy to the full your tender care. Let them both think of the lesson which I have never ceased to impress upon them, that the principles and the exact performance of their duties are the chief foundation of life; and then mutual affection and confidence in one another will constitute its happiness.
Let my daughter feel that at her age she ought always to aid her brother by the advice which her greater experience and her affection may inspire her to give him. And let my son in his turn render to his sister all the care and all the services which affection can inspire. Let them, in short, both feel that, in whatever positions they may be placed, they will never be truly happy but through their union. Let them follow our example. In our own misfortunes how much comfort has our affection for one another afforded us! And, in times of happiness, we have enjoyed that doubly from being able to share it with a friend; and where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one’s own family? Let my son never forget the last words of his father, which I repeat emphatically; let him never seek to avenge our deaths.
I have to speak to you of one thing which is very painful to my heart, I know how much pain the child must have caused you. Forgive him, my dear sister; think of his age, and how easy it is to make a child say whatever one wishes, especially when he does not understand it. It will come to pass one day, I hope, that he will better feel the value of your kindness and of your tender affection for both of them. It remains to confide to you my last thoughts. I should have wished to write them at the beginning of my trial; but, besides that they did not leave me any means of writing, events have passed so rapidly that I really have not had time.
I die in the Catholic Apostolic and Roman religion, that of my fathers, that in which I was brought up, and which I have always professed. Having no spiritual consolation to look for, not even knowing whether there are still in this place any priests of that religion (and indeed the place where I am would expose them to too much danger if they were to enter it but once), I sincerely implore pardon of God for all the faults which I may have committed during my life. I trust that, in His goodness, He will mercifully accept my last prayers, as well as those which I have for a long time addressed to Him, to receive my soul into His mercy. I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me. I bid farewell to my aunts and to all my brothers and sisters. I had friends. The idea of being forever separated from them and from all their troubles is one of the greatest sorrows that I suffer in dying. Let them at least know that to my latest moment I thought of them.
Farewell, my good and tender sister. May this letter reach you. Think always of me; I embrace you with all my heart, as I do my poor dear children. My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! farewell! I must now occupy myself with my spiritual duties, as I am not free in my actions. Perhaps they will bring me a priest; but I here protest that I will not say a word to him, but that I will treat him as a total stranger.
My heart hurts.
Almost three years ago I went to Paris on a pilgrimage to visit Marie Antoinette. We didn’t have internet access so I pulled out the phone book and sat there calling people trying to figure out how to get to Saint Denis. To my utter disgust upon calling the library at the Louvre an arrogant voice finally answered “Oh, you mean the Austrian, oui?” I must have sat there for a seconds because her voice came out again telling me “I do not know. Why do you call me asking these questions?” My last act of desperation was to call a local Catholic church where a lady kindly explained how to reach my destination.
I woke up that morning in a quiet mood. I sat at the vanity staring at my fingers and I remember curiously rubbing at a small stain that had appeared on my hand. Looking into the mirror I noticed that I was crying. How odd it was to not even be aware that I was crying? I had promised myself not to cry and yet my body sat here betraying me.
My pilgrimage to Saint-Denis was a long journey to an archaic church where the Kings and Queens of the past were laid to rest and seemingly forgotten. By the time we reached the crypt tears were angrily trailing down my cheeks. I was angered that this woman that I loved so much would have been abandoned in this cold and dark place. I kept saying “This isn’t right, this isn’t fair!”
My mom really is one of the wisest people I know. She took my hand and said “Lyze, this is the greatest honor a Queen could ever receive, to be buried in this church with those that came before her. This is the final resting place of the Kings and Queen of France, they are all here. Why should she not be? This way she is included in the history of this country forever.” I can’t imagine now that she wouldn’t be here.
It seems silly looking back but I fretted over what to give her. After all what can you offer a queen that she does not already have? In the end I left her my love, my tears, and roses.
White is the colour of her innocence and purity. In order to leave my roses with Marie I had to climb over a wall. When I went back over there was a lady from the church waiting for me. She asked if I was the ghost leaving roses on the Dauphines grave. I was a child then, my only thought was that she would scold me and I defended myself.
I can remember this conversation as if it had just taken place ” I came all the way from Singapore to find Marie and when I got here no one knows who she is and I love her so much. How could you forget her? No one even cares about her anymore but I do and I am paying my respects to her in the only way I know how and I am not sorry for honoring her.” It was if all my anger had bled out and I felt drained.
Bless that woman because she told me “I know. I think she will like them” and it was like finally someone other than my Mom understood what I was doing and I just remember crying.
I realized then that this place was not cold and gloomy. It was quiet and peaceful. She lays in state next to her husband and near her son. She was murdered by people who hated everything she stood for. They were cruel to her and caused such unbearable pain and they foolishly believed that her death would erase her name.
But here she lies, forever Queen of France and even in death you cannot take that from her.
“… In those few short moments he sketched that memorable and cruel likeness of a shattered woman, all beauty gone, with nothing left but pride and a grim determination to die in a manner worthy of her ancestors. She stares ahead, with the Hapsburg lips, which were once a pretty pout, set in a look of utter contempt.‘ — from Marie Antoinette, Joan Haslip, 1987.”
Taken from Madame Guillotine
Marie-Antoinette’s appartment in the castle of Fontainebleau.
Be still my heart.
“The bed was ordered by and designed for the Queen, but delivered after the French Revolution, and used at first by Empress Josephine.”
“The Queen’s Gambling room, part of her state rooms, furnished as it was in 1788 .”
“Some details of one of the chest of drawers, by Benneman”
“The Queen’s Gaming room was also used as an Audience room for Empress Marie-Louise.”
“The Queen’s Boudoir, part of her private rooms ; please note how right the color and design of the furnitures match the ones of the panelling”
“The silk relief peacock feather brocade of the curtains and wall-hangings in Marie Antoinette’s bed chamber in Versailles.”
Other samples of textiles from Marie Antoinette’s various apartments.
Tout arrive en France.