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Après la Bastille: the changing fortunes of Marie Antoinette

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A great lesson in history.

The Artstor Blog

On July 14, we celebrated the storming of the Bastille, the momentous day in 1789 that marked the beginning of the French Revolution, and the beginning of the end of the monarchy.

While it is a day revered by the citoyens of France, it has come to symbolize the declining fortunes of the king and his once celebrated and later reviled wife, Marie Antoinette.

Anonymous French printmaker | Coiffure of Independence or The Triumph of Liberty | c. 1778 | Musée national de la coopération franco-américaine Anonymous French printmaker | Coiffure of Independence or The Triumph of Liberty | c. 1778 | Musée national de la coopération franco-américaine | Photographer: Gérard Blot. Image and original data provided by Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, N.Y. artres.com

History has revised the narrative of the Queen whose apocryphal utterance “let them eat cake” allegedly flaunted her disregard for her starving subjects.

Beginning with the nineteenth-century biography by the Goncourt brothers, and the insightful study of Zweig (1932), and culminating in recent portrayals…

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