Marie-Antoinette Colors

published Oct 22, 2010
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Marie-Antoinette is best known for being detested, for so perfectly representing the sins of the French ancien régime that she was beheaded. But she is also famous for her role as Neo-Classical tastemaker. In her public and private interiors as well as the portraits she commissioned, we can see a palette of colors fit for a queen.

If you look at all the material items commissioned by and for Marie-Antoinette — chairs and sofas, firescreens and tapestries, porcelain dishware and vases, decorative paintings and rugs, dresses and bedclothes — you would find every color of the rainbow. But a few color schemes prove the most dominant across the spectrum of her material culture: blue and white, red and green, and white with mulitcolored florals. This palette was echoed in the queen’s portraits. Portraits that emphasized her royal legitimacy tend to include rich reds and greens, while her more ‘pastoral’ portraits feature pastel blues and pearly whites (blue, perhaps, to match her famous eyes). And of course, wherever she was, lots of gilt bronze.

Click here for a more in-depth look at the history and interiors of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.

Images: 1 Joseph Ducreux pastel of Marie Antoinette when she was still Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria (1769), in the Musée national du Château de Versailles, via Wikimedia Commons; 2 Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie Antoinette à la Rose (1782), in the Musée national du Château de Versailles, via L’Histoire par L’Image; 3 Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie Antoinette de Habsbourg, reine de France et ses enfants (1787), in the Musée national du Château de Versailles, via L’Histoire par L’Image; 4 Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie Antoinette (1787-88), via Wikimedia Commons; 5-9 Château de Versailles; 10 Madame Guillotine.