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Re: Relevance of 1787 Image MA with Children to Today’s society?

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  • Eilythia
    Chris - Some suggestions for your paper. I think first of all, your teacher will expect you to comment on the artist and the painting. For a quick look you
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 1 11:23 PM
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      Chris - Some suggestions for your paper. I think first of all, your
      teacher will expect you to comment on the artist and the painting.
      For a quick look you can check out some of the excellent sites
      online, such as http://www.batguano.com/vigee.html. Vigree LeBrun
      was quite popular with the French court at Versailles because of her
      ability to portray her subjects, primarily women, realistically yet
      in a flattering light. Her subjects, for the most part, are
      portrayed as beautiful women who have carefree lives and no troubles.
      She liked to make her subjects comfortable, with light conversation
      and comfortable chairs. And she was sufficiently pretty herself to
      find favor with many.
      Her memoirs are a charming glance at her life, touching on her
      preferences for her subjects - she preferred a picturesque soft look
      of draped fabrics and the naturalness of unpowdered hair. An
      examination of the art of the period is often full of artificial
      sweetness, which creeps into Vigree Lebrun's pieces, but moderated to
      subtle touches of feminity and elegance.
      The painting under discussion is not the obvious depiction of
      motherly love that it would appear. Vigree Lebrun was informed that
      the Queen would pose only for the head, and that the artist would
      have to do the majority of the painting on her own. Vigree Lebrun
      used models and painted all but the heads in her studio without the
      royal family present and then had to do each face separately.
      (And as only woman who has had kids can tell you - the odds of
      getting several children to sit still at the same time for any length
      of time would be nearly impossible. Mostlikely,this direction to
      just paint the heads was made for practical reasons.)
      A close examination of the picture reveals a family group, but it is
      not as affectionate a group as many would like to think. The baby is
      held loosely while the Dauphin points at an empty cradle. The
      significance of that cradle was cruel in the picture, as the Queen
      had recently lost a baby daughter, and became doubly so with the
      death of the Dauphin soon after the exhibition of this painting.
      There is affection in the loving way that the young princess leans on
      her mother's arm, but the normally elegant features of the Queen are
      frozen in an almost sullen expression.
      An examination of some of Vigree Lebrun's other works reveal that she
      was quite capable of depicting affectionate mothers. Please refer to
      the picture of the Princess Alexandra Golitsyna with her nephew
      Angela (1794, Russia) http://www.batguano.com/vigeeart14.html , the
      portrait of Madame Pierre Rousseau with her daughter (1789)
      http://www.batguano.com/vigeeart16.html ,and the self portraits of
      herself with her daughter Julie at age 6 and age 9
      http://www.batguano.com/vigeeart.html and
      http://www.batguano.com/vigeeart3.html
      In addition, this painting is similar to paintings of the Spanish
      Court done about the same time. In fact, the red velvet suit on the
      Dauphin is very similar to that worn by a small prince in a portrait
      of the Spanish royal family done in 1799 by Francisco Goya, entitled
      La Familia de Carlos V. Although this famous painting was done years
      after that of Marie Antoinette's, it was only one of many paintings
      done of royalty, who liked to have their portraits painted as much as
      Halle Berry likes to be photographed. Portraits were given to
      friends, ambassadors, fellow monarchs as symbols of friendship and
      diplomatic gifts. Please notice that Carlos V has a very large
      family too! As did the King of England at the time, George III, who
      was often parodied because of his large and affectionate family.

      How does this equate to modern sensibilities of motherhood? Well,
      many would argue that it shows the affectionate mother, a common
      theme in today's "family values" oriented society. However, family
      values of the 18th century were rather different. Yes, parents loved
      their children, but children were expected to be little adults,
      clothed in adult clothes and shuffled off to a succession of maids,
      nurses, tutors, and even to other families. Women as a whole were
      lesser creatures and the role of a mother was to produce children who
      by the grace of god might reach adulthood. In the case of a queen,
      it was a political necessity to ensure stability in a nation. I
      suggest you research a bit more on family values of the 18th century,
      and perhaps compare them to those of today. Please consider that
      values and priorities have changed drastically in 200 years.

      There are a number of different facets suggested here. And I am
      quite sure there are more that you can look at. I hope this helps
      get you started.
      Liz


      --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, "Axel"
      <Rand103242@c...> wrote:
      > Chris's art history project – Discuss Vigee-Lebrun's famous MA
      > Painting - "Queen Marie Antoinette, with her children in 1787", and
      > discuss further its relevance on today's society?
      >
      > See photo album "1787 Marie" – images 1,2 and 3 are of that
      painting
      > Of the Queen with her children.
      >
      > Here is the link to Chris's post at yahoo groups
      > http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-
      > 8&selm=68b55951.0402292329.3213e2a8%40posting.google.com
      >
      > Here is what Chris wrote. Anyone wish to reply to Chris. If you
      do,
      > Please post here. I am dropping Chris a note to let him know there
      > May be replies to him here as well as at yahoo groups.
      >
      > From: chris (stenkynuts@y...)
      > Subject: can someone help me??? Please!!!!
      > Newsgroups: humanities.design.misc
      > Date: 2004-02-29 23:29:16 PST
      >
      >
      > Yes I am doing a project for my Art History class at Northern
      > Illinois University and I am having a problem doing this project and
      > my teacher really hasnt helped me that much so here it goes. I have
      > to talk about the painting and the relevance it has on todays
      society
      > done by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun of Marie Antoinette and here children
      > on her side. If anyone could help me about how this painting has any
      > relavence is has on todays society it would be greatly appreciated.
      > Thanks you very much.
    • Axel
      Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun painted Queen Marie Antoinette with her children in 1787 to achieve political objectives for the survival of the French monarchy. It
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 3 7:16 PM
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        Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun painted Queen Marie Antoinette with her
        children in 1787 to achieve political objectives for the survival of
        the French monarchy. It was the goal Vigee LeBrun and the
        Queen's "handlers" who commissioned that painting to "re-introduce"
        Marie Antoinette to the French public, to sell a new image of the
        Queen as loving mother to counter act the negative campaign already
        being waged against her image.

        In trying to sell the wholesome maternal image of Marie Antoinette in
        this painting to be exhibited in France's largest gallery, the
        ministers of state were using the media of their time, just as
        politicians today use television. The maternal image of this
        painting was part of the campaign to reintroduce Marie Antoinette
        as "mother of France", just as Bush 9-11 ads reintroduce him after
        months of Demo bashing as the "war president" and leader of 9-11, and
        after 6 weeks of Kerry bashing, Kerry shows his own bio ads to show
        himself as decorated Vietnam vet and veteran senator and fighter for
        rights of citizens - each ad tries to introduce or reintroduce and
        define for the public the image of the nation's leader or aspiring
        leader.

        Austria has been France's bitter rival for a century and the new
        alliance with Austria that Austrian princess now Queen Marie
        Antoinette was not popular. Plus the queen's youth, her
        independence, her frivolity and prefence for her young often
        dissolute friends all aided to end her initial popularity and turn it
        to scorn over the first decade of her Queenship from 1774 to 1784.
        Yet, from that already less than popular position the Queen's
        prestige suffered a severe blow in the great Diamond Necklace scandal
        of 1785-86. (See links, Diamond Necklace Scandal to read my article
        on this subject.)

        To try to combat the Queen's precipitous decline in popularity, the
        monarchy tried to draw attention to the one accomplishment Marie
        Antoinette had by 1785 achieved – motherhood.
        After long years of childlessness which were also blamed on the Queen
        she at last had children and had a young family that reached four
        children by 1786.

        Thus, a considerable commission was given to Wurtmuller to paint the
        Queen with her children in 1785 even before the Diamond Necklace
        Scandal fully broke.

        Yet, that painting showing the Queen strolling with her dancing
        children did not receive favorable reviews – perhaps her lacey
        costume, perhaps the setting at Petit Trianon with the Temple of Love
        behind her, perhaps the dancing children seemed to reinforce the
        frivolous image Marie Antoinette was trying to shed.

        With that context and with still greater urgency of trying to quell
        the outright hatred and riducule of the Queen and monarchy the result
        of the Diamond Necklace Affair, the Queen's favorite and most
        prolific painter was given the commission to paint Marie Antoinette
        with her children in 1787. While Wurtmuller received 5,000 livres,
        Vigee LeBrun was paid 18,000 livres – a huge commission for one
        painting at that time. But such was the importance placed on this
        painting.

        For in an age with no internet, no television, no radio, no movies,
        not even photography – the painting on display at the national
        gallery was the best image one could gain of the monarch without
        seeing the sovereign in person.

        It was the goal of Vigee LeBrun to show Marie Antoinette as a loving
        young mother of growing children – the future of France.

        The Diamond Necklace case and verdict sent a message of the Queen as
        a spoiled, dissolute rich girl, with lovers of both sexes, whom
        noblemen could rightly assume would sell her favors for the price of
        an expensive diamond necklace. The tabloids of the time – and France
        now saw a flood of these pamphlets – told still more graphic tales of
        the Queen's lusts.

        To compat this epidemic of Antoinette-bashing, the Queen and
        her "handlers" wanted to shape an image of Marie Antoinette as a
        mother. The wanted to "re-introduce" the Queen to the French pulbic –
        to show her young family – to show her as wholesome mother. To give
        lie to the infamous calumny spread against this noble and good woman
        and mother.

        By 1786, Marie Antoinette has four children. She was the mother of
        the "children of France" - Vigee's mission was to sell this wholesome
        image of Marie Antoinette so that once again the French people would
        love their queen and feel better about the monarchy that ruled over
        them.

        In my next post, I discuss how this goal was not achieved and how
        that too has relevance to today's society. Hope Chris is out there
        and if it's not too late - hope this post helps you at No. Illinois!


        Axel

        --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, "Axel"
        <Rand103242@c...> wrote:
        > Chris's art history project – Discuss Vigee-Lebrun's famous MA
        > Painting - "Queen Marie Antoinette, with her children in 1787", and
        > discuss further its relevance on today's society?
        >
        > See photo album "1787 Marie" – images 1,2 and 3 are of that painting
        > Of the Queen with her children.
        >
        > Here is the link to Chris's post at yahoo groups
        > http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-
        > 8&selm=68b55951.0402292329.3213e2a8%40posting.google.com
        >
        > Here is what Chris wrote. Anyone wish to reply to Chris. If you
        do,
        > Please post here. I

        > From: chris (stenkynuts@y...)
        > Subject: can someone help me??? Please!!!!
        > Newsgroups: humanities.design.misc
        > Date: 2004-02-29 23:29:16 PST
        >
        >
        > Yes I am doing a project for my Art History class at Northern
        > Illinois University and I am having a problem doing this project and
        > my teacher really hasnt helped me that much so here it goes. I have
        > to talk about the painting and the relevance it has on todays
        society
        > done by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun of Marie Antoinette and here children
        > on her side. If anyone could help me about how this painting has any
        > relavence is has on todays society it would be greatly appreciated.
        > Thanks you very much.
      • Axel
        Yet the 1787 painting like many photo-ops today failed to turn public opinion the way the handlers wished. The painting of Marie Antoinette with her children
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 3 7:37 PM
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          Yet the 1787 painting like many photo-ops today failed to turn public
          opinion the way the handlers wished.

          The painting of Marie Antoinette with her children did not stem the
          decline in the Queen's popularity, and it may have even hurt her
          more. Within 2 years, a mob of 6,000 women would march on her
          luxurious Versailles palace calling for Antoinette's blood and force
          her and husband King Louis to live amongst the people in Paris.
          Within 6 years, the monarchy would be overthrown, Louis and
          Antoinette imprisoned and then in succession beheaded by their
          enraged subjects.

          So, the changed public image did not do the job for Marie Antoinette.
          Fortunately, neither Democrat nor Republican politician faces the
          kind of life and death survival stakes that came to face the French
          monarchs of 1787, but the relevance remains - the images can and do
          fail to reach their objective - why??

          Sometimes when the handlers try too hard, something slips up and the
          true character of the subject comes through and in doing so the
          public sees through the charade of the photo op they see through to
          the real public figure below.

          The artist Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun believed in monarchy -
          passionately. She respected, admired, even revered Marie Antoinette.
          Vigee was proud to call the Queen of France her patron and friend.

          When she received the most important commission of her life to paint
          the Queen with her children in one final attempt to salvage the
          queen's rapidly falling place in public esteem, Vigee LeBrun through
          herself into the project and produced a beautiful painting of Queen
          and children.

          But was it too much so??

          Was Vigee LeBrun too much the royalist, too much in love with
          Marie Antoinette to paint the painting needed at that time?

          The children are endearing, the queen lovely. Her daughter leans on
          her mother's shoulder
          With affection. The baby in her lap animated as the infant boy
          reaches to the security of
          Antoinette's bosom. Her older boy the dauphin point to empty cradle
          so that all may be reminded of the Queen's loss of her 4th child –
          little Sophie Beatrix who died just 10 days short of her first
          birthday in July 1787.

          But when the French public of 1787 – the real audience for this
          painting – this photo op – this piece designed to sway sympathy and
          sway opinion to view a hard-pressed leader favorably does the already
          skeptical French public see the sympathetic mother the handlers
          wanted portrayed?

          For here the artist the friend the respectful subject could not
          portray Marie Antoinette much as she tried as just a mother.

          For Marie Antoinette even as mother sits regally and majestically. on
          her lavish upholstered chair / throne. Her feet as royalty's feet
          always cushioned by a great pillow that her slippers not touch the
          dirt of the floor.

          In deference to the recent Diamond Necklace scandal the Queen wear no
          choker or necklaces about her neck and throat but her drop earrings
          of gold are great as ever. Her huge velvet hat
          Is lined with mink or perhaps sable like her gown. Her billowing
          white plumes, the famous trademark of all Marie Antoinette painting
          are proud and high as if to tell one and all – this is no ordinary
          Mother – this is the most fashionable woman in all France – this is
          your QUEEN.

          While Louis loved this painting of his wife – the public response was
          more muted.

          When the painting was late in arriving a note appeared in the vacant
          picture frame "Voila Le Deficit". Then when the painting appeared
          the moniker remained.

          From the time of this painting Marie Antoinette gained her first but
          by no means last of her degrading nicknames – Madame Deficit. Worse,
          much worse for her would come.

          Relevance for our society – the effort to shape image is ever
          present. And so too the evidence of failure when one tries too hard.

          The image of Michael Dukakis trying to be strong on defense – but
          looking ridiculous in a tank.

          The image of Richard Nixon walking on an ocean beach – Kennedyesque –
          but not leaving off his wing tip business shoes.

          The effort never ends – George Bush addressing troops on aircraft
          carrier wearing a flight jacket.
          Bush wore the costume, he played the part, his handlers framed the
          photo-op for use in his future campaigns as Vigee LeBrun hoped her
          imaging of Marie Antoinette would help her queen succeed in her own
          campaign to restore her shattered image.

          In 1787 a skeptical French public were not taken by the image, in
          2004, we will see if the American public passes judgment on the
          images painted for them in the media of our times.


          Axel


          In reply to post 948
          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Images_of_Marie_Antoinette/message/948

          --- In Images_of_Marie_Antoinette@yahoogroups.com, "Axel"
          <Rand103242@c...> wrote:
          > Chris's art history project – Discuss Vigee-Lebrun's famous MA
          > Painting - "Queen Marie Antoinette, with her children in 1787", and
          > discuss further its relevance on today's society?
          >
          > See photo album "1787 Marie" – images 1,2 and 3 are of that painting
          > Of the Queen with her children.
          >
          > Here is the link to Chris's post at yahoo groups
          > http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-
          > 8&selm=68b55951.0402292329.3213e2a8%40posting.google.com
          >
          > From: chris (stenkynuts@y...)
          > Subject: can someone help me??? Please!!!!
          > Newsgroups: humanities.design.misc
          > Date: 2004-02-29 23:29:16 PST
          >
          >
          > Yes I am doing a project for my Art History class at Northern
          > Illinois University and I am having a problem doing this project and
          > my teacher really hasnt helped me that much so here it goes. I have
          > to talk about the painting and the relevance it has on todays
          society done by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun of Marie Antoinette and here
          children > on her side. If anyone could help me
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