Visual Analysis

The portrait of Marie Antoinette shows us her beauty and elegance along with her wealth, but you could also see it as she is representing herself with a rose. Her elegance is shown in the way that she holds her hands and her posture, it is graceful and soft. You can clearly see her wealth by her clothes, all of the lace trim and layers of skirts as well as the feathers in her hat. All of these things add to the beauty of not just her but of the painted portrait, showing that not only does she has money to by luxurious clothes but money to have a painting of this quality painted of her. Back then only the rich and powerful could afford portraits to be painted of them.

The rose that Antoinette is holding could represent her, beautiful and delicate but strong and able to defend herself against harmful threats “Looking can be easy or difficult, pleasurable or unpleasant, harmless or dangerous.” (Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics”. Practices Of Looking : An Introduction To Visual Culture.) This painting was created because Antoinette had originally had a more simple portrait done, but it had caused criticism that she didn’t appear as a queen because of its simplicity, like Mirzoeff said, the way that we choose to present ourselves can affect the ways that others see us. So she had this painting below created to show that she could be more formal and ‘queen like’ which is what the people would have expected.


Grand Ladies, 1783 Marie Antoinette holding a rose by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun (Versalilles)

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