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



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The duchesse d'Angoulême, by Alexandre-François Caminade, 1827.


It is evident from damage to the bottom and sides and, especially, the top, that the painting was at some point placed in a much smaller frame.

Marie Thérèse Charlotte of France (19 December 1778, chateau de Versailles – 19 October 1851, Frohsdorf, Austria), eldest child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, later duchesse d'Angoulême. She was the only one of her immediate family to survive the Revolution. After several years in prison - after the executions of both her parents, her beloved aunt Élisabeth, and the death by neglect of her younger brother, Louis-Charles - on 18 December 1795, the day before her seventeenth birthday, she was exchanged for a political prisoner being held in Austria, and sent to her mother's family in Vienna.  She was unhappy there - she knew no one - and later joined her uncle, the future Louis XVIII, in exile in Courland. Since he had no heir, himself, he convinced her to marry her first cousin, the duc d'Angoulême, son of her other surviving uncle, the future Charles X. The duc was a shy, backward young man, and the marriage, arranged for purely dynastic reasons, proved childless.

A detail of the unrestored painting.  I may be projecting, but her eyes seem incredibly sad....

The royal family moved to England for several years, and at the fall of Napoléon in 1814, they returned to France where the monarchy was restored. Their triumph was short-lived. The following year Napoléon escaped his exile in Elba and began raising an army in the period that would later be known as the One Hundred Days, and Louis XVIII was forced to flee the country. But the duchesse d'Angoulême, who was in Bordeaux at the time, rallied the local troops. They agreed to defend her, and she refused to leave Bordeaux even after Napoléon ordered her arrest. Finally, believing her cause lost, and wanting to avoid senseless bloodshed, she agreed to leave France. Her personal bravery caused Napoléon to famously declare that she was the "only man in her family."

Like with most important royal commissions, reductions and variants of the painting were produced.

After Waterloo and Napoléon's final defeat, Louis XVIII once again returned as king of France. Since neither of her uncles' wives were still living, the duchesse d'Angoulême was considered the first lady of the Bourbon Restoration, and during the reign of Charles X, as her husband was the heir to the throne, she was addressed as Madame la Dauphine. The return to France had been very traumatic for her.  After her experiences during the Revolution, she probably suffered from what we would now label PTSD.  Still, she managed to fulfill all her royal duties with a very dignified and rigidly correct manner, though she was compared unfavorably to her famously graceful and charming mother; the fickle French somehow failed to notice the cruel irony of their criticisms.

The policies of Charles X were increasing unpopular, and in 1830, after the three day "July Revolution", what remained of the royal family once again went into exile, first to Edinburgh, then to Prague. In 1844, after the deaths of her uncle and husband, she went to live at Schloss Frohsdorf, a castle just outside of Vienna. The son and daughter of her husband's late brother - with whom she was very close, and who were the last of the legitimate royal line - came to live with her. She died a few years later, at the age of seventy-two.

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Alexandre-François Caminade (14 December 1783, Paris – 27 May 1862, Paris), French painter, known for his portraits and religious subjects.  He was a pupil of Jacques-Louis David, and was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1833.






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