The Petit Trianon, 1784

22 March 2010

A beautiful painting by Nikklas Lafrensen le Jeune of the fête given by Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon on Monday, 21st June 1784 in honour of Gustave III, King of Sweden. I adore the graceful way that the guests stroll around the illuminated Temple of Love. This painting was part of Gustave’s private collection, kept as a souvenir of a happy time.

Gustav III was a great admirer of his French royal hosts and as a gift for him, Marie Antoinette commissioned this portrait of herself with her two eldest children from the Swedish artist, Adolf Ulrich Wertmuller. It was delivered to Sweden in 1786 and remains there still, in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

In its own way, this painting provoked just as much disapproval as Vigée-Lebrun’s portrait of the Queen dressed in a muslin gown. It was seen as both ridiculously stiff and at the same time, offensively informal, depicting as it did, the Queen strolling in her garden like a bourgeois housewife. In short, it pleased no one, much like its subject.

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