Portraits from the French court…

21 February 2010

Some new additions to my portrait collections, that I thought some of you might like to see.

This charming collection of portraits really caught my eye earlier on. It depicts the four lovely daughters of Henri-Jules de Bourbon, Prince de Condé. At the top left is Marie-Thérèse, the Princesse de Bourbon as Spring; top right is Anne-Marie-Victoire as Summer; bottom left is Anne-Louise-Bénédicte, Duchesse de Maine as Autumn and then bottom right is Marie-Anne, Duchesse de Vendôme as Winter.

This is another portrait of Marie-Thérèse de Bourbon, Princesse de Conti by Mignard. She was undeniably becoming but suffered somewhat at court as the sister in law of the exquisitely beautiful Marie-Anne, Princesse de Conti, who was the daughter of Louis XIV and Louise de la Vallière. However, she got the last laugh as Marie-Anne was desperately in love with her husband, who in his turn was in love with the impish Louise, Princesse de Condé and daughter of Louis XIV and Athénaïs de Montespan. They must have been interesting times at Versailles.

Marie-Anne de Bourbon, the ‘pretty’ Princesse de Conti. This is a lovely drawing of the Princesse as it shows off how women of her class genuinely dressed. Portraits of the time tend to show aristocratic women covered in artfully arranged drapes and laces, with their bosoms on display and hair flowing freely, which gives a distorted idea of how they actually would have dressed on a day to day basis.

Speaking of which, here is a portrait of the fascinating Louise-Françoise, eldest surviving daughter of Louis XIV and Athénaïs de Montespan. The three daughters of Louis XIV, Marie-Anne, Louise-Françoise and Françoise-Marie lived in close quarters at court but were never to be truly friends as they were jealous of their own rank and privileges and bitterly envious and suspicious of each other.

Françoise-Marie de Bourbon, Duchesse de Chartres by Goubert. Françoise-Marie was the younger sister of the fascinating Louise. She was a proud, imperious girl who grew up to become a troubled woman with a drinking problem and a choleric temper, which earned her the nickname ‘Madame Lucifer’.

Another portrait of Françoise-Marie, a portrait commissioned in 1834 by her great great grandson King Louis Philippe, who wished to celebrate his Orléans ancestors.

Other posts about the daughters of Louis XIV can be seen here, here, here and here.

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