This is a theme-based blog about the 18th century, with main focus on the swedish nobleman Axel von Fersen, the rumoured lover of queen Marie Antoinette. Side history and period-related art is also featured.
Immediately on his arrival in France, Gluck was admitted to the Queen’s toilet, and she talked to him all the time he remained with her. She asked him one day whether he had nearly brought his grand opera of “Armide” to a conclusion, and whether it pleased him. Gluck replied very coolly, in his German accent, “Madame, it will soon be finished, and really it will be superb.” There was a great outcry against the confidence with which the composer had spoken of one of his own productions. The Queen defended him warmly; she insisted that he could not be ignorant of the merit of his works; that he well knew they were generally admired, and that no doubt he was afraid lest a modesty, merely dictated by politeness, should look like affectation in him.
The portrait of Madame Louise-Élisabeth of France, Infanta of Spain, Duchess of Parma, was commissioned by King Louis XVI’s aunts and shows one of the daughters of Louis XV with her son. The shadows on her face and on the wall may symbolize death, in fact she died of smallpox at the age of thirty-two. Completed in 1788, one year after the commission, the picture idealizes its subject, who stands on a terrace in a relaxed, graceful pose, dressed in the low-cut and elaborately decorated costume popular in late eighteen-century.
May God watch over us! He has heavily laid his hand on this kingdom in a visible manner. Let us pray to him, my dear brother; he alone knows hearts, in him alone is our worthy hope. I have passed this Lent in asking him to look with pity upon us, and to arrange these matters in the family I love so much.
I have that so deeply at heart that I would consecrate my life to asking it on my two knees, if that would make me worthy of being heard. It is only God who can change our fate, make the vertigo of this nation (good at bottom) cease, and restore it to health and peace.
Adieu–what was it you asked me? how I pass my time? what are my occupations? whether I ride on horseback? whether I still go to Saint-Cyr? I scarcely dare for a whole year past to do my duties. I kiss you with all my heart.
—Madame Elisabeth to the comte d’Artois, 22 February 1792