Marie Antoinette and her children at Versailles

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

This painting hangs today at the Palace of Versailles. Vigée Le Brun painted about 30 portraits of the queen, this apparently the last one. She is viewed with her three surviving children in a pyramidal composition recalling Renaissance paintings of the Virgin, Jesus and St. John. When Vigée Le Brun was painting this work the queen's youngest child, Sophie-Béatrix died so the empty cradle refers to her demise. This flattering portrait depicting the much-hated queen as a loving mother had an important propaganda purpose.

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© 2008 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.