Feminism in the Rococo

What comes to mind when you think about Marie Antoinette? You might associate this unfortunate queen and her entire retinue as the epitome of frivolity and naiveté, aristocrats with little awareness of (or interest in) the realities of the outside world. In many ways you would be right. But what if I suggested that this society of lavish luxury and Dangerous Liaisons also witnessed the early expression of some feminist attitudes?

Jean-Etienne Liotard, Mme d’Epinay, 1759

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“Divine” Royalty and Symbolic Propaganda

The gods and goddesses of Classical mythology had as many vices as they had virtues, but their most important attribute was their divine power over nature and over man. As such, their symbols and narratives became essential components of the artistic representation of Europe’s most powerful noblemen, especially since kings were believed to retain a divine right to rule over their people.

One of the most ambitious projects of political propaganda was commissioned by Marie de Medici in 1622 from Peter Paul Rubens, Europe’s greatest court painter and a talented diplomat. Continue reading