Marie Antoinette’s shoes

I’ve joked SO MANY times about wanting to own a pair of Marie Antoinette’s shoes. I’m not really a shoe person (although there’s a pair of Irregular Choice beauties that I’m currently desperately longing for) but to me Marie Antoinette’s Shoes are the pinnacle, the EPITOME of female glamour. Of ALL glamour in fact.

There’s something so fascinating about the shoes worn by women of the past though, isn’t there? I suppose it’s because shoes are so portable and so trinket like and also there’s something so intimate about the fact that the foot goes inside them which in a way makes the long ago wearer seem closer to us. I mean, this isn’t just any old shoe – this is a shoe that Marie Antoinette put her actual foot inside!

Sadly for me, when a pair of Marie Antoinette’s shoes recently came up in auction, they were not only far too small (a UK size 4) but also way out of my price range and sold for the equivalent of about £36,250. Crikey. As usual, the auction house vastly underestimated how much they would go for and predicted a sale price of between the equivalent of €3,000 and €5,000. Do you remember a post I did a while ago about another sale of royal relics and how they were massively undervalued by Christie’s?

One of the pieces sold in that earlier Christie’s sale was this fragment of puce silk and lace from a gown worn by Marie Antoinette while imprisoned in the Temple. This was once owned by Madame de Tourzel as well. This item was expected to sell for €4,000 – €5,000 but actually went for an astounding €55,700.

Back to the shoes – they are said to have been worn by Marie Antoinette at the Fête de la Fédération on the first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, 14th July 1789. We know that on that day, the Queen chose to wear a simple gown of plain white cotton with feathers dyed in tricolor hues and tricolor ribbons hanging from her headdress. It seems logical to assume that Marie Antoinette, whose attention to sartorial detail is rightly legendary, should have teamed this with tricolor trimmed shoes.

I’m also really keen on this portrait of the young Marie Antoinette at the age of twenty by Gautier-Dagoty, which came up in the same auction and was valued at between €4,000 and €6,000. Isn’t it lovely?

Here’s another pair of Marie Antoinette’s shoes, a lovely pair of beaded mules, which can be seen at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. Sorry about the ropey photograph but they keep them in a gloomy little box in the French Revolution bit.

I wonder who bought them? D’you reckon we’ll see them on a red carpet at some point? Will they appear in a museum or have they been whisked off into the hush of another private collection? Personally, if I owned them I’d keep them under my pillow and never let them out of my sight…

Further reading:

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

11 thoughts on “Marie Antoinette’s shoes

  • Juliet Grey

    WOW. What a wonderful post. If I owned a pair of Marie Antoinette’s shoes, well, (a) I’d assume I’d be so well off that a lot of other whims would be solved — like I could afford to move back to an apartment overlooking Central Park — and (b) I would probably keep them on my desk as inspiration. Actually, they would fit me! How cool to find out that her feet were just a smidge larger than mine … though I am sure that they were somewhat narrower; all 18th c. shoes seem to be incredibly narrow.

    Of all the gazillions of pairs of shoes Marie Antoinette owned — and so much was destroyed in October 1789 when Versailles was stormed, and later when the Tuileries was stormed — I wonder how many pairs are extant.

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      I’ve always had a feeling that there’s quite a lot of pairs about the place, which is possibly why the estimate on this auction was so weirdly low. Shoes are immensely portable after all so I can imagine plenty were borne away by faithful Royalists in 1792.

      Her feet must have been freakishly small in relation to the rest of her if she really had a 42″ bust and 22″ waist. I’m trying to visualise this now and failing somewhat.

  • Tara

    This is so cool-the things you find out!
    Although, going by the shoe size conversion chart, a UK 4 is a US 6 1/2; the last time I was a 6 1/2 I was in, like, middle school!

  • Anna Amber

    According to someone who worked on the auction on a French M-A forum, the shoes (and plenty of the other pieces) were purchased by a Russian billionaire who runs a museum about Nicholas II. I’m not sure who this man is, but perhaps he’s the same one who lent his Faberge Egg collection to the Vatican for an exhibit — and if so, this could mean we might see the shoes in an exhibit someday!

  • suarezpix

    Where are the size 6 pink Converse Sneakers?!!!! Sofia Coppola made sure not to leave them out of her movie “Marie Antoinette.” But really though, Queen Marie’s tiny shoes are fascinating to see. Thanks for the post Madame G.

  • Molly

    It’s so strange seeing stuff that belonged to Marie Antoinette. It reminds me that she was a human being and not just a character in countless books I’ve read. It’s even weirder to see her picture there and to think that she’s the same age as me. I’ve always loved paintings of Marie Antoinette. She unlike so many of the stiff, frowning portraits of the day her personality shines through all the portraits of her, and she always looks so sweet and glad, like she was looking forward to seeing you. I wish I could have met her in real life. I think she would have been a blast to go shoe shopping with.

  • MissDGirl

    I love this blog! A lot. I was thinking about what you said about the 42 inch bust and 22 inch waist… odd indeed. However – depending on when these measurements were taken (earlier or later in her life) It very well could have been after birthing her children as a women’s bust does grow with childbirth and age. In thinking about it it though – it was said that her figure did deteriorate after childbirth – 42 22 is an ODD measurement inDEED!!

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