1783 "Muslin portrait" by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun

This picture created a firestorm of controversy. The uproar caused by this picture made it necessary to have the next picture painted hurriedly as a correction. The French blamed hard times for their textile industry on her and her court - this dress is of muslin and muslin was made in Italy, not in France. Her dress is one-piece and very casual. According to Ribeiro in Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, pp. 226 - 227 (2002). it was put on by pulling it over the head. A drawstring around the neckline to gather it and a sash gathered in the fullness at the waist - the ancien regime version of today's cas' dressing. Her coiffure is restrained for that era. This version of the chemise style was named chemise à la reine after this portrait of her.

Marie-Antoinette wears the prototypical muslin chemise à la reine in this controversial 1783 Vigée-Lebrun portrait. Her dress features ruffles at the neck and sleeves reminiscent of the balloon sleeves of the early 1600s. The dress is white and lightweight, at least for its day.

Keywords:  1783, Vigée-Lebrun, Marie-Antoinette, Archduchess, Queen, Habsburg family, Bourbon family, French, long bouffant straight coiffure, feathered hat, bows, scoop neckline, bertha, elbow length balloon sleeves, cuffs, waist band, natural waistline, full skirt, chemise à la reine


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