Saturday, November 1, 2008

Joyeux Anniversaire Marie Antoinette!

Happy Birthday to the Illustrious 18th Century Queen of France ...

In honor of Marie Antoinette's Birthday, Cupid's Charm is hosting a little fete with over 70 invitees... How splendid!

The Flotsam & Jetsam Blog primarily focuses on antiques and collectibles; therefore, I thought it appropriate to show some of the objects the famous Dauphine cherished.

The sitting hen pictured above was one of the Queen's many lacquer boxes housed in a specially designed cabinet of curiosities ... Maria Theresa of Austria bequeathed a lacquer collection to her thus inspiring Marie to continue a family tradition. This piece now resides in the French National Collection at Versailles.

A truly stunning 6 carat heart shaped, blue gray diamond was a gem Marie Antoinette brought from her Austrian home. She loved pearls and diamonds, so much so that much of the Royal collection was altered to fit her tastes. I believe this ring is currently privately owned.
Retaining its original upholstery and finish, this stunning bergere belonged to Marie Antoinette and was used at the Petit Trianon in the Queen's bedroom. The wheat and berry motifs reiterate her penchant for nature; the lack of gilding further expresses this idea. This armchair, along with its sister pieces, are held in the collection of the Chateau de Versailles.

A piece of Marie Antoinette lives on in the Americas at the National Museum of Natural History. Her husband, King Louis XVI, is believed to have given his dear bride these large, clear pear shaped diamonds. These earrings are thought to have been a favorite of the Queen. Weighing in at 14.25 and 20.34 carats, these spectacular gems have a fascinating history. Reportedly taken from Marie while attempting to flee France during the Revolution, the diamonds wound up a century and a half later in the hands of Russian nobility. From there, Cartier purchased them in 1928 and then sold them to Marjorie Merriweather Post. The Post family donated the earrings, along with their original silver settings, to the Smithsonian in 1964.

I hope you have enjoyed this little "tour" of the material culture of the Glorious Queen of France,
Maria Antonia