16 January 2010

La dernière Dauphine

portrait of Marie Thérèse Charlotte de Bourbon
gouache on ivory, signed "Chatain" circa 1825
When I went off to school, my father presented me with this painting so I could have something nice in my tiny dorm room. How long I've been attached to this wonky portrait with the bright eyes, its Empire gilt-brass frame of oak and laurel garlands and inexplicable rhinestones. I have moved it with me from one (tiny) bedroom to another for over 30 years.

This miniature was part of a collection assembled by my great-grandmother, who was something of a francophile. Over the last few months I have been cleaning and restoring the collection.
The portrait subject was unknown to me until recently when I opened the frame and discovered her name written on the back: La Dauphine Duchesse D'Angoulême. The painting is signed in the lower right front Chatain. After a bit of research I found that the noted miniaturist Hippolyte-Louis Garnier (best known to San Franciscans for his portrait of Lola Montez) had done a portrait of S.A.R. le Mme. La Dauphine, Duchesse D'Angoulême, around 1825, and made this lithograph after that painting. Chatain almost certainly copied after the same work by Garnier.

Garnier, Hippolyte-Louis (Paris, 1802 - 1855)
La Dauphine, Duchesse D'Angoulême
original lithograph with hand coloring, 1825

Marie-Thérèse Charlotte de France (1778-1851) was the Crown Princess and Duchess of Angoulême. She was the daughter of King Louis XVI and Marie Antionette, sole survivor of her immediate family, and the wife of Louis Antoine of Artois, the Duke of Angoulême. During the time this portrait was created she was in line to become the Queen of France, a title she subsequently held for a mere 20 minutes. She spent most of her adult life in exile in England and Scotland.

You can read more about the life of Marie-Thérèse in the historical novel Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal, and on Elena's wonderful blog, Tea at Trianon.


  1. What a magnificent post! Thank you for the link!

  2. I remember the miniature portrait post you did and am glad to see you revisit the subject....the rhinestones do puzzle me though!

  3. What exquisite portraits. You have displayed them here beautifully and now, I need to go out and get one! In my town, there are many antique stores and these goodies are ubiquitous little gems in Minneapolis! Thank you and I am so glad to have stumbled upon you!! Anita

  4. I've come to have a great admiration for Marie-Thérèse through Elena Maria Vidal's work and I was delighted to see this lovely miniature of her. The lithograph is very touching, too.


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