Images of the past

A chronologue of beauty

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Four Savoyard Princesses

These four Savoyard princesses came from a happy home with parents who respected and loved each other and remained close throughout their marriage.But sadly the daughters of Victor Amadeus and Maria Antonietta  were never to experience and enjoy their kind of marital happiness.The two eldest daughters,Marie Josephine and Marie Therese made very advantageous marriages to two princes of the house of Bourbon,brothers of the next King Louis XVI,the Comtes de Provence and d'Artois respectively.The younger two,Maria Anna and Maria Carolina married less exalted men but did not even get the compensation of a quiet life with a loving husband and many children.

Victor Amadeus of Sardinia,1734

Victor Amadeus in 1740 by Guiseppe Dupra

Victor Amadeus III  of Sardinia

Maria Antonietta of Spain,1748

Maria Antonietta Queen of Sardinia in 1750 by Jacopo Amigioni

Maria Antonietta Queen of Sardinia in1755 by Guiseppe Dupra

Family of Victor Amadeus in 1759 by Guiseppe Dupra,on far left Marie Josephine,
Marie Therese and Maria Anna on right.

Marie Josephine of Sardinia as a little girl by Guiseppe Dupra ,c. 1760 

Marie Josephine left Savoy for the glittering court of Versailles as a seventeen year old girl and became the Comtesse de Provence wife of the King's grandson and brother of the Dauphin.Her wedding was followed by a luxurious ball and her husband proclaimed himself satisfied after the wedding night but the bride was found lacking in charms by the superficial French court.She was considered ugly,her complexion too dark,her eyebrows too thick.Moreover she did not have a habit for bathing and keeping clean,a fact noted by couple of courtiers,she even refused to wear powder and rouge to beautify herself which was considered an even bigger sin than being ugly.The matters were so serious that her husband had to intervene with her on the matter of rouge,thereby she consented to wear it.The couple got along well and loved to gossip about,especially Marie Antoinette inventing ludicrous stories which were often believed.

Marie Josephine de Savoie as a Nymph of the Hunt,c. 1770 by Jean Germain Drouais

Comtesse de Provence,c. 1770 by Joseph Duplessis

Marie Josephe de Savoie Comtesse de Provence,1775 by Jean-Baptiste d'Agoty

Comtesse de Provence,detail

Comtesse de Provence,1782 by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun

Madame de Provence,18th c. engraving

Madame la Comtesse de Provence in court dress,c. 1780

Marie Josephine Comtesse de Provence,c. 1780 by Rosalie Filleul

Louis Stanislas Comte de Provence,1760 by Maurice Quentin de La Tour

Comte de Provence,1770 by Carle van Loo

The couple did not have children and the Comte soon stopped visiting his wife's bed,possibly on account of her lack of hygiene.Marie Josephine was ignored by the court now headed by a Queen with whom she had never made friends and about whom she had spread vicious rumors.She took to drink and became an alcoholic.She entered into a passionate affair with Madame de Gourbillion which was to last a lifetime.When the Comte and Comtesse left for exile on the eve of the Revolution they went their separate ways and she lived undisturbed with her beloved until circumstances made her the Queen of France.When her husband recalled her to join him in Mitau she brought along her lover.Madame de Gourbillion was forcibly removed from the carriage in which they have arrived.Marie Josephine refused to change out of her clothes and locked herself in her room with a bottle of drink refusing to come out until de Gourbillion joined her.After a while tempers calmed down but it did not last long and Marie Josephine left her husband's side once again.When they were recalled to France as King and Queen the Comte now Louis XVIII was forced to buy his wife's incriminating correspondence with her paramour.She was not Queen for long and after a second exile she died from dropsy in England.

Marie Therese of Savoy as a little girl,c. 1760

Marie Therese de Savoie Comtesse d'Artois

Marie Therese joined her sister in France two years later marrying the youngest grandson of the King the handsome Comte d'Artois.She fared a little bit better than her sister in the looks department and had a clear complexion which was admired at the court although not as much as Marie Antoinette's.She also took better care of herself and unlike her sister washed and cleaned her body and her teeth.She was a dull girl and the Comte de Mercy-Argentau writing to Maria Theresa in Austria said that she was "silent and interested in absolutely nothing.She caused Marie Antoinette much grief when she was the first of the wives to give birth to an heir a healthy baby boy who was followed by a sister and then a brother.Despite giving the people the much wanted heir she was despised at court and after the Queen she and her husband were the most hated  people in France due to their perceived extravagance and arrogance,which was mostly on part of her husband.

Comtesse d'Artois,1775 by Jean-Baptiste d'Agoty

Marie Therese,1780 by Perin Salbreux

Comtesse d'Artois,1780 engraving by Auguste Brun

Comtesse d'Artois in court dress,c. 1780

Comtesse d"Artois and her children,1783 by Charles Emanuel Leclerq

Portrait of Comtesse d'Artois,French School

Marie Therese,1790 by Alexander Kucharsky

Comtesse d'Artois,c 1790 by Joseph Boze

The Royal family of France in 1782,sitting on left Comtesse d'Artois with her children behind,Comte d'Artois standing behind his brother Louis XVI,Marie Antoinette holding the Dauphin,Madame Therese on floor,Madame Elizabeth standing behind the Queen and Comte and Comtesse de Provence standing behind

Charles Phillipe Comte d'Artois,1773 by Jean Marital Fredou

Comte d'Artois,c. 1775

Charles Phillipe d'Artois,1793 by Henri-Pierre Danloux

Comte d'Artois as King Charles X,c. 1800 by Jean Horace Vernet

Charles X,1825 by Thomas Lawrence

Children of Comte and Comtesse d'Artois Charles Ferdinand Duc du Berry,
Sophie d'Artois and Louis Antoine Duc d'Angouleme ,1781 by Rosalie Filleul

Duc d'Angouleme,1785 by Joseph Boze

Louis Antoine Duc d'Angouleme,1796 by Henri-Pierre Danloux

Duc d'Angouleme,c. 1830 by Danloux

Charles Fredinand Duc du Berry,c. 1780

Duc de Berry,1796 by Danloux

Marie Therese followed her husband in exile to England but soon left for her native Savoy due to the estrangement form her husband who found her repulsing and even forbade her from attending her son's marriage to Marie Antoinette's daughter Marie Therese.She died in exile in 1805 dying some 20 years before her husband took the throne as Charles X thereby never becoming Queen of France.

Maria Anna of Savoy,Duchess of Chablais,1777

Benedetto,Duke of Chablais

Maria Anna of Savoy,sister of Marie Josephine and Marie Therese was married to her uncle Benedetto Duke of Chablais ,her father's half brother.Strangely she was to have the happiest marriage of all her sisters despite being in a niece-uncle relationship.The couple were close and respectful of each other but his bride always saw him as her uncle thereby preventing any passionate feelings that may have developed.The couple  were unable to have children and after her husband's death she lived a long life as a widow.

Maria Carolina of Savoy,1781

Maria Carolina,Electoral Princess of Saxony,1782

Crown Prince Antony of Saxony,1827 by C.Vogel

The youngest of the Savoyard sisters was not happy about her proposed marriage to Prince Anthony of Saxony but despite her pleas was sent off to Saxony in September of 1781.Her family traveled with her for a good part of the trip but when time came for her to leave the family carriage and continue on her own the poor Princes had to be pushed out by force.Even though she was one the highest ranking females at the court in Dresden after her sister in law she was deeply unhappy and passed away form smallpox in 1782 barely a year after her arrival.

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