A Stitch in Time | Season 1 | Episode 6 - Marie-Antoinette

29m 06s

Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s 1783 portrait La Reine en Gaulle was considered so scandalous when it was first unveiled that the artist later decided to reproduce the pose featuring a more conventional mode of dress. The sitter was of course the doomed wife of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and the “Gaulle” in question was a mode of attire that she had introduced to the French court some years earlier. However, her depiction in such a loose fitting garment served to further erode the Austrian-born queen’s already poor standing with her adopted country. To many, the informal, unstructured dress conjured up images of a chemise (an item of underclothing). Indeed the portrait became known as While Ninya Mikhaila and her team labour to recreate the scandalous gown, Amber Butchart travels to Paris in an attempt to better understand the woman behind the portrait. There she discovers the Gazette des Atours de Marie-Antoinette, essentially the queen’s catalogue of swatches from which she’d pick the fabrics for her gowns by putting a pin prick through the favoured cloth. Amber also visits Marie-Antoinette’s home in Versailles, and the prison cell (now a chapel) where the queen spent her final night before she was executed.

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