L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Marie Amélie, Queen of the French - Three portraits by Louis Hersent

State portrait by Louis Hersent, 1836.

Marie Amélie (April 26, 1782, Caserta – March 24, 1866, Claremont), born Maria Amalia Teresa, Princess of Naples and Sicily (later "the Two Sicilies"), was Queen of the French as the consort of King Louis Philippe.  One of nine children, her father was King Ferdinand IV & III of Naples and Sicily (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies), and her mother was Maria Carolina of Austria, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and closest sister of Marie Antoinette.  (When she was a small child, her mother and aunt affianced her to her French cousin, the first son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, but the dauphin Louis Joseph died in 1789 at the age of seven.)  Her youth and early adulthood were fraught with upheaval and exile, owing to repercussions felt in Italy from the French Revolution and the rise of Napoléon.  In 1809 she married Louis Philippe, duc d'Orléans.  (He was no stranger to upheaval and exile himself; the previous duc d'Orléans, his father, was the infamous "Philippe Égalité", powerful early supporter of the Revolution who eventually voted for the execution of his cousin Louis XVI, but was, nonetheless, himself a victim of the Reign of Terror.)  Together they had ten children, eight of whom survived to adulthood.  The so-called July Revolution of 1830 marked the fall of the unpopular Bourbon Restoration and Louis Philippe was proclaimed King of the French.  His pious queen showed no interest in politics and devoted herself to her husband and her children.

One of several versions of the full-length portrait.
Much of the jewelry that the queen is wearing in her portrait.


La Reine Marie-Amélie et deux de ses fils, le duc d'Aumale en uniforme de soldat de l'infanterie légère et le duc de 
Montpensier en uniforme d'artilleur, devant une vue du parc du château de Neuilly, by Louis Hersent, 1835.
Henri Eugène Philippe Louis d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale, her second youngest son.
Antoine Marie Philippe Louis d'Orléans, duc de Montpensier, her youngest son.
One of the variations on the above portrait.


A copy by Louis-Édouard Rioult after Hersent's portrait of circa 1831-2, circa 1839.
Watercolor copy of the above portrait.
Copy on porcelain of the same painting; it wasn't unusual for copies to be reversed.

At first popular as the "Citizen King" and the "Bourgeois Monarch", Louis Philippe's regime was viewed as increasingly conservative and, after an economic crisis in 1847, he was forced to abdicate the following year.  The royal family fled to England, where the king died two years later.  Marie Amélie remained in England, attending Mass daily, and lived sixteen more years, dying at the age of eighty-three.

The widowed, exiled former Queen of the French, near the time of her death.


Louis Hersent (March 10, 1777, Paris – October 2, 1860, Paris) was a French painter; a pupil of David, he won the Prix de Rome in 1797.  He was successful during both the Empire and the Restoration, painting mythological and historical subjects.  After the advent of the "July Monarchy", he painted the first important portraits of the new king and queen of the French, but was later superseded in their patronage by Franz Winterhalter.

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