In 2008, Christie’s in Paris held an Auction of royal memorabilia from the estate of the late Comte and Comtesse de Paris.
The Comte died in 1999 and the Comtesse in 2003. Both were aged 91. The Comte was the Orleanist pretender to the Throne of France. He was also known as The Count of Paris, Duke of France.
He was directly descended from King Louis-Phillipe who reigned in the 19th Century and also the Duc d’ Orleans who took the name of Phillipe Egalite during the French Revolution. He voted in favour of the execution of his Cousin Louis XVI. The Duc’s d’ Orleans are all descended from Louis XIV’s brother Phillipe. Marie Antoinette always thought of him as the enemy.
Amongst all this memorabilia was a small silk embroidered purse that is quite beautiful. The purse was embroidered by Queen Marie-Antoinette during the French Revolution whilst she was imprisoned in the Tower of the Temple. She was skilled at embroidery and knitting and enjoyed doing it.
The purse was presented to Madame de Tourzel, who was the Governess of the Royal Children and it made it’s way to the Orlean family during the 20th Century.
It was expected to fetch between $16,000 and $20,000 at Auction but sold for $133,000 turning out to be the star of the show.
Another auction lot was a puce coloured fragment from one of her dresses. It fetched $76,000. Apparently she loved to wear puce coloured dresses before the revolution and still wore it while she was in the Temple.
The last piece Marie Antoinette embroidered was a cupid in tent stitch. It is now in Milan.
The Metropoitan Museum of Art has a Firescreen panel embroidered by Marie-Antoinette.
Maria Antoinia the Daphine and later Queen of France was a victim of her family’s ambition and the political climate.
Long after her death, Marie Antoinette remains a major historical figure remembered by many for her friviolity, beauty, jewels and decadent fashion. In this week when we celebrate women we would like to remember her as a mother and for the courage she showed in her final hours.