Marie Antoinette at the Conciergerie, last chance…

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Alexandre Kucharski, Marie Antoinette, 1793, Musée National de Versailles

There is something positive about the transports strike in Paris, everyone is out walking and the streets are it is incredibly lively and fun to watch. I recently went to see the Marie Antoinette exhibition at the Conciergerie “Metamorphoses of an image” (until January 26), and walked on to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants Le Hangar, across the Seine on rue Beaubourg. You get a chance to watch the works on Notre Dame on the way and taste their delicious pumpkin ravioles and fresh sardines. 

François Flameng, Marie-Antoinette se rendant au supplice 1885. Dépôt des musées de Senlis © Coll. Musée de la Révolution française.jpg

When she died on October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette had already been the subject of very many portraits and caricatures but she has since been largely represented in every country, by contemporary artists as well as caricaturists, as a star or as a witch, with dolls, objects, films and photographs and hundreds of books of which Antonia Fraser‘s biography, is one of the most successful: it was the inspiration for Sofia Coppola‘s film in 2006.

The shoe worn by Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine, Musée des Beaux Arts de Caen © Patricia Touzard.

Her last home was the Conciergerie on the Ile de la Cité and this is where the interesting show on her trial and last days, is set with a very hip decor. I was surprised to be so moved by the leather and green silk slipper she was wearing to the guillotine (it slipped off and someone picked it up on the street), the lock and key to her jail, and Alexandre Kucharsky‘s numerous portraits of hers. This Polish artists became her official portraitist after Elisabeth Vigée Lebrun fled for Italy and the Queen left Versailles. These images were widely sold as prints or replicas among the émigrés.

John Galliano Marie Antoinette dress, Spring Summer 2005 for Dior

The chiefs of accusations are projected on the walls of the building, which is very dramatic and you can read the original papers written by the revolutionary judges and visualise the Queen in her cell where she was allowed to have visitors.

Manufacture de Sèvres, Large vase presenting the portrait of Marie Antoinette, Musée National des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon

The scenography by Véronique Dollfus is extremely lively thanks to a series of costumes and objects, large posters of the portraits and glass windows with Sèvres porcelain and personal artifacts. There are  contemporary paintings inspired by the Queen, like those by Pierre et Gilles or Fernando Botero as well as Galliano dresses. Her incredible fate was a general source of inspiration and this inventive show is a good sum up.

Hundreds of biographies have been published on the Queen

The Marie Antoinette show closes on the 26 th of January at La Conciergerie. Le Hangar, is closed on Mondays. Lunch and dinner at le Hangar will hopefully go on forever, 12 impasse Berthaud, tel: 01 42 74 55 44.

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One Comment on “Marie Antoinette at the Conciergerie, last chance…”

  1. Superbe périple en perspective…quelle discrétion hier soir sur le sujet. Regrette de ne pas m’être montrée plus curieuse. Chantal

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