A portrait of the Duchesse de Chaulnes? 1

Somewhat surprisingly, considering that she meticulously listed her sitters, many portraits by Vigée-Lebrun remain unidentified. This is one example, which I have been studying for quite a while as it is such a lovely painting and it seems odd that no one has managed to identify the sitter. I’m no expert but I am guessing […]


Marie Antoinette’s ladies in waiting 3

Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James, Princesse de Chimay (1744-1804) was one of the numerous children of Charles Berwick, Duc de Fitz-James (1712-1787) and his wife Victoire de Louise Josèphe Goyon de Matignon (1722-1777). She was married to Philippe Gabriel Maurice Joseph d’Hénin Liétard, prince de Chimay on 28 September 1762 at the age of eighteen. Sadly, the […]


The unfortunate Duchesse de Chaulnes

Madame la Princesse de Lamballe was not the only unhappy young wife at the court of Versailles when Marie Antoinette arrived there as a giddy young bride in 1770. One of her first ladies in waiting, the Duchesse de Picquigny (later to become Duchesse de Chaulnes) was also in a pretty depressing situation, which must […]


The pulchritudinous Honourable Mrs Graham 4

Mrs Graham was a renowned beauty, who had additional bonus exotic points for having been raised in Russia where her father, Baron Cathcart was Ambassador to the court of Catherine the Great. Her arrival back in England must have been akin to the return from Paris of Anne Boleyn two centuries earlier and it is […]


The belle Marquise de la Fare 3

This exquisite piece is a portrait by Jean Honoré Fragonard of Gabrielle de Riquet de Caraman, the Marquise de la Fare, probably painted in 1775 at the time of her marriage to the Comte de la Fare. Gabrielle-Françoise-Victoire de Caraman was born on 28th June 1755 the daughter of the Marquis de Caraman and his […]


A Revolutionary family portrait

The Comte de Bourcet and his family by Charles-Paul Landon, 1791. At first glance this is a charming family group but then when you look more closely, it becomes much more complicated. The Comte was the Officier de Maison for the household of the Dauphin and here, he makes no secret of his royalist loyalties […]


A harmonious lady 1

A portrait of Mary Hamilton Beckford, painted in 1799 by Benjamin West. This graceful portrait is a formidable testament to the good breeding, aristocratic heritage and excellent taste of the sitter. The eye is drawn to the elegant house in the background and to the book of music on Mrs Beckford’s lap, both carefully placed […]


The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned 11

I was very excited to hear about the new upcoming exhibition at Hampton Court Palace this summer: The Wild, the Beautiful and The Damned, which looks at the beautiful and rather decadent art work produced under the aegis of the later Stuart courts. This is particularly well timed for me as I am working on […]


The beautiful world of Madame de Pompadour 4

They’ve recently reconstructed how they think Madame de Pompadour’s rooms at Versailles may have looked when she lived in them. How beautiful is this bedroom? It’s clear from looking at her belongings and portraits that Madame was fond of what I always call ‘mermaid colours’: the rich and varying blue and green hues of the […]


A lady in prettiest pink

How is this for splendid? It’s a portrait of Sir John Pole and his wife Elizabeth by Thomas Hudson and was painted in 1755. I love how the beautiful shimmering salmon pink of Lady Pole’s gown is echoed in the sunset behind the couple. I also love Lady Pole’s faintly coquettish and yet arch air […]


A dream dressing table 1

I would adore a dressing table like this one. Funnily enough, they don’t sell furniture like this at Ikea, which is a shame. I remember that Grange, one of the more upmarket furniture shops had a ‘French Revolution’ collection in 1989, which was just wonderful. I particularly recall a very beautiful bed and a copy […]


Marie Antoinette’s lioness – Madame Auguié and her daughters 2

A beautiful portrait, recently sold at Sotheby’s, of Adélaïde Genet, Madame Auguié (1758-1794), the sister of Madame Campan and one of the last femme de chambre of Marie Antoinette. This gorgeous pastel portrait is by Anne Vallayer-Coster and was probably exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1781 and later copied by Kucharski. Madame Vigée-Lebrun, who […]


Mademoiselle de Bourbon, the richest girl in France 3

‘I smiled and curtsied, shyly looking around the gorgeous candlelit room at their faces, some were smiling and friendly but most were rather stern. ‘I am very pleased to meet you all.’ The King led me between them, personally introducing me to each and every member of my new family. Thanks to Abbé Vermond I […]


Princess Maria Luisa of Parma 1

I’ve written about Maria Luisa of Parma before but just wanted to share this wonderful 1765 portrait by Laurent Pécheux. The artist was summoned from France to Parma in January 1765 to paint the young princess for a portrait that was to be sent to Madrid where it could be scrutinised by her future husband, […]


The sad little Duchesse de Lauzun 3

Amèlie de Boufflers was born on the 5th May 1751 and raised by her formidable grandmother, the Maréchale de Luxembourg after being orphaned at a young age. She was renowned throughout high society for her intelligence, prettiness and charmingly shy ways. Of course, as the sole heiress of the Maréchale’s enormous fortune, she could have […]


Gabrielle de Polignac’s granddaughter 2

A charming pastel portrait by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun of Corisande Armandine Sophie Leonie de Gramont (1783-1865), the daughter of Aglaé de Polignac, Duchesse de Guiche and granddaughter of Yolande Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchesse de Polignac. After escaping the Terror with her family, Corisande was raised in England in the household of her grandmother’s great friend, Georgiana, […]


The Comtesse de Chastellux

Angélique Victoire de Durfort, Comtesse de Chastellux (2nd December 1752-14th November 1816) depicted in a wonderful sculpture by Louis Simon Boizot. This piece currently lives in the Louvre. Angélique was daughter of Aymeric Joseph de Durfort, Duc de Civrac, and his wife Anne-Marie de La Faurie de Monbadan, and was sister to the Marquise de […]