Master of Arts
General Art History
In this thesis, I will investigate the iconographic significance of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun’s Marie-Antoinettte en Velours Bleu by analyzing Education of the Virgin scenes and other contemporary eighteenth-century portraits of women reading. I will begin with an in-depth look at largely Spanish Education of the Virgin scenes and establish the Virgin Mary with her book as both the subject of God’s patriarchal authority and a source of influence for subsequent allegorical portraits. I will then analyze a small group of eighteenth-century portraits of women with books, also establishing them well within the boundaries of the gendered norms—men as worldly and cultured, women as private and domestic. Finally, I will discuss the Velours Bleu portrait as a case study within a genre of portraiture that depicts women reading. In light of its Marian imagery, the portrait emerges as a visual testimony to Marie-Antoinette’s submission and obedience to her king-husband, Louis XVI.
Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.
Slayton, Elaine Miller, "Devotion to God and State: The Book in the Education of the Virgin and Vigee-Lebrun's Marie-Antoinette en Robe de Velours Bleu" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 40.