Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess de Polignac

2 May 2020

Today’s painting by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun is her delightful portrait of Marie Antoinette’s close friend Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, Duchess de Polignac (1749-1793), which was painted in 1782, the same year that the winsome Duchesse was made governess of the royal children after the scandalous departure of their previous governess, the Princesse de Guéménée.

Vigée Le Brun wrote that: ‘The Duchesse de Polignac combined her beauty, which was truly ravishing, with the sweetness of an angel and the most alluring and at the same time most solid mind.’

According to tradition, Marie Antoinette presented this portrait to a postmaster who helped the Polignac family escape from France in July 1789 and it remained in his family until the death of his last descendant, at which point it was bequeathed to the Duc de Polignac, who presented it to Versailles.

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