The Duchess of Berry

The Duchess of Berry

Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile, Duchess of Berry (1798-1870).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - P. Bernard

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

A pretty widow

At the time this painting was executed in 1825, the Duchess of Berry was a young widow of 27 years old. But by the time the picture was painted, it was still popular, giving the royal family the sparkle of youth.

Image Analysis

A trendy portrait

Marie-Caroline is wearing a white satin dress here, just enhanced with a rose attached to her bodice. But it is his chef's hat that catches the eye, in a deliberately picturesque note that evokes Scotland, a country then very fashionable in France and in the rest of Europe thanks in particular to the novels of Walter Scott, vogue which no he would not be denied for several years: in 1829 the Duchess of Berry gave the Tuileries a famous costume ball on the theme of Marie Stuart.

But the choice of the portrait painter also reveals a "modern" taste and the desire to be very up to date. Lawrence, famous for several decades in Great Britain, indeed enjoyed, after 1815, an unrivaled fame on the continent, which was further reinforced by the wide distribution of engravings from his works. He thus painted for Windsor the victorious sovereigns of Napoleon. It was also on the order of the British sovereign that he returned to Paris in the summer of 1825 to pose for the newly crowned King Charles X, as well as his son, the Duke of Angoulême, who became Dauphin. He met the Duchess on this occasion, and it was then that he made this portrait of her more intimate than official (she holds a face-to-face which elegantly recalls the eye disorder with which she was affected), which a great popularity, by the print but also by many copies, some being made at the request of the model.

Lawrence's know-how, his favorite opposition between white and red, which gives a very spectacular effect, the very removed and apparent touch as well as the rendering both realistic and distanced from the physiognomy, are also characteristic of public eyes of the English school era in general.

Interpretation

In the France of the Restoration, the United Kingdom is synonymous with modernity as much by its economic development or its intellectual movement as by the popularity of its artists, writers, actors and even its engravers, without neglecting some great figures of painters. The English model exists in many fields, and a real Anglophilia, not to say Anglomania, then animates the upper classes of French society: we have here in a way an example.

  • Bourbons
  • portrait
  • Restoration
  • UK
  • Louis Philippe

Bibliography

Antoine de BAEQUE, Françoise MÉLONIO Cultural history of France , t.3, "Enlightenment and liberties: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries" Paris, Seuil, 1998.Ian BURUMA Anglomania, a European fascination Paris, Bartillat, 2001 Claire CONSTANS National Museum of the Palace of Versailles: Paintings , 2 vol.Paris, RMN, 1995.Francis DÉMIER 19th century France Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 2000. Edmond DUPLAND Marie-Caroline, Duchess of Berry Paris, France-Empire, 1996.Emmanuel de WARESQUIEL, Benoît YVERT History of the Restoration: birth of modern France Paris, Perrin, 1996 Antoine de BAEQUE, Françoise MÉLONIO Cultural history of France , t.3, "Enlightenment and liberties: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries" Paris, Seuil, 1998.Ian BURUMA Anglomania, a European fascination Paris, Bartillat, 2001 Claire CONSTANS National Museum of the Palace of Versailles: Paintings , 2 vol.Paris, RMN, 1995.Francis DÉMIER 19th century France Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 2000. Edmond DUPLAND Marie-Caroline, Duchess of Berry Paris, France-Empire, 1996.Emmanuel de WARESQUIEL, Benoît YVERT History of the Restoration: birth of modern France Paris, Perrin, 1996.

To cite this article

Pascal TORRÈS, "The Duchess of Berry"


Video: Secrets dhistoire - La duchesse de Berry, une rebelle chez les Bourbons