Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




The Early Modern Period

16th - 18th century


 


The smooth transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World," which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas, Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.
 



Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca. 1490)
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.

 

 


France: From the Wars of Religion to the Eve of the Revolution
 


1562-1789
 



Historical Context

1589 - 1610 Henry XIV King of France
1610 - 1643 Reign of Louis XIII
1643 -1715 Reign of Louis XIV
1715 - 1774 Reign of Louis XV
1774 - 1792 Reign of Louis XVI
1793 Loius XVI & Marie Antoinette tried for treason and beheaded

 


Louis XV and  Marie Leszczynska

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

 

 

Louis XV


Rosalba Carriera
Portrait of Louis XV, 1720.


king of France
byname Louis The Well-beloved, French Louis Le Bien-aimé

born February 15, 1710, Versailles, France
died May 10, 1774, Versailles

Main
king of France from 1715 to 1774, whose ineffectual rule contributed to the decline of royal authority that led to the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789.

Louis was the great-grandson of King Louis XIV (ruled 1643–1715) and the son of Louis, duc de Bourgogne, and Marie-Adélaïde of Savoy. Because his parents and his only surviving brother had all died in 1712, he became king at the age of five on the death of Louis XIV (Sept. 1, 1715). Until he attained his legal majority in February 1723, France was governed by a regent, Philippe II, duc d’Orléans. In 1721 Orléans betrothed Louis to the infanta Mariana, daughter of King Philip V of Spain. After the death of Orléans (December 1723), Louis appointed as his first minister Louis-Henri, duc de Bourbon-Condé, who cancelled the Spanish betrothal and married the King to Marie Leszczyńska, daughter of the dethroned king Stanisław I of Poland. Louis’s tutor, the bishop (later cardinal) André-Hercule de Fleury, replaced Bourbon as chief minister in 1726; and the dynastic connection with Poland led to French involvement against Austria and Russia in the War of the Polish Succession (1733–38).

Louis XV’s personal influence on French policy became perceptible only after Fleury’s death in 1744. Although he proclaimed that he would henceforth rule without a chief minister, he was too indolent and lacking in self-confidence to coordinate the activities of his secretaries of state and give firm direction to national policy. While his government degenerated into factions of scheming ministers and courtiers, Louis isolated himself at court and occupied himself with a succession of mistresses, several of whom exercised considerable political influence. Already Pauline de Mailly-Nesle, marquise de Vintimille, Louis’s mistress from 1739 to 1741, had sponsored the war party that brought France into the inconclusive War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) against Austria and Great Britain. In September 1745 the king took as his official mistress (maîtresse en titre) Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour, whose political influence lasted until her death in 1764.

Louis was not, however, a totally passive monarch. His desire to determine the course of international affairs through intrigue caused him to set up, about 1748, an elaborate system of secret diplomacy known as le Secret du roi. Secret French agents were stationed in major European capitals and ordered by the king to pursue political objectives that were frequently opposed to his publicly announced policies. At first Louis employed his secret diplomacy in an unsuccessful attempt to win the elective Polish crown for a French candidate (a goal he officially renounced). Soon he expanded the network of agents, intending to form an anti-Austrian alliance with Sweden, Prussia, Turkey, and Poland. Because his official ministers knew nothing of le secret, Louis’s foreign policy became paralyzed with confusion. In 1756 the king, prompted by Madame de Pompadour, temporarily abandoned the objectives of his secret diplomacy and concluded an alliance with Austria. France and Austria then went to war with Great Britain and Prussia (Seven Years’ War, 1756–63), but Louis’s continental commitments to the Austrians prevented him from concentrating his country’s resources on the crucial colonial struggle with Great Britain, a country with greater maritime power and overseas resources. As a result, by 1763 France had lost to the British almost all her colonial possessions in North America and India. Although Madame de Pompadour’s favourite, Étienne-François, Duke de Choiseul (foreign minister from 1758 to 1770), restored France’s military strength, the failure of Louis’s secret diplomacy in Poland enabled Russia, Austria, and Prussia to partition Poland (1772) and virtually eliminate French influence in central Europe. Although Louis had been popular as le Bien-Aimé (the Well-Beloved) in his youth, he had gradually earned the contempt of his subjects.

During the later years of Louis XV’s reign, an attempt was made to strengthen the waning authority of the crown by withdrawing from the Parlements the privilege of obstructing royal legislation. This privilege, which had been suspended by Louis XIV, had been restored to the Parlements during the regency. The judicial magistrates had later consolidated their position as opponents of the crown by claiming, in the absence of the States General, to be defenders of the fundamental laws of the kingdom and by uniting the provincial Parlements in a close union with the Parlement of Paris. In this manner they had overthrown the financial system of John Law, had helped to procure the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1764, and had, for a time, disrupted the provincial administration of Brittany. The Parlements also stood resolutely in the way of financial reform. In 1771 the chancellor, René de Maupeou, determined to strike at this abuse by restricting the Parlement of Paris to purely judicial functions and by abolishing the sale of judicial offices. In spite of some popular opposition, the new judicial system functioned effectively until the king’s death and might have saved the Bourbon monarchy from the path that led to revolution if his successor had not gratuitously abandoned the reform. Apart from this reform, Louis XV’s long reign had been marked by a decline in the crown’s moral and political authority, as well as by reverses in foreign and military affairs. The king died in 1774, hated as much as Louis XIV had been.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


Louis XV by Louis-Michel van Loo

 


Louis XV by Hyacinthe Rigaud

 


Louis XV

 


Louis XV

 


Louis XV, France, 1763 by Michel Van Loo

 

 

 

Marie Leszczynska


Maria Leszczyńska, by Pierre Gobert

queen of France
in full Marie-Catherine Leszczyńska, Polish Maria Karolina Leszczyńska
born June 23, 1703, Breslau, Silesia
died June 24, 1768, Versailles, France

Main
queen consort of King Louis XV of France (ruled 1715–74). Although she had no direct influence on French politics, her Polish dynastic connections involved France in a European conflict that resulted in the eventual annexation of Lorraine by France.

Marie’s father, Stanisław Leszczyński, was elected King Stanisław I of Poland in 1704. After he was deposed in 1709, he settled with Marie at Wissembourg. In the hope of quickly obtaining an heir to the French throne, Louis XV’s chief minister, the duc de Bourbon, betrothed the 15-year-old king to Marie in 1725. The marriage took place at Fontainebleau on September 5. Marie bore Louis 10 children between 1727 and 1737, but only one of her two sons—the dauphin Louis—survived infancy. In 1733 France entered the War of the Polish Succession against Austria in support of Stanisław’s claims to the Polish throne; Stanisław was made duke of Lorraine by the treaty that ended the conflict (1738). Meanwhile, Louis XV, having lost interest in his queen, was lavishing his attentions on a succession of mistresses. Marie’s marital unhappiness was intensified by the death of the dauphin in 1765. In accordance with the treaty of 1738, Lorraine became a part of France when Marie’s father died in the following year.

 


Portrait of Maria Leszczynska and her son,
the future king Louis XV of France

 


Portrait of Maria Leszczynska

 


Marie Leszczynska en habit de sacre.

 


Marie, reine de France, par Francois Stiémart.

 


Maria Leszczynska

 


Portrait of Maria Leszczynska, 1748 by Maurice Quentin de Latour

 

 

 

Louis XVI
king of France
also called (until 1774) Louis-Auguste, duc de Berry

born Aug. 23, 1754, Versailles, France
died Jan. 21, 1793, Paris

Main
the last king of France (1774–92) in the line of Bourbon monarchs preceding the French Revolution of 1789. The monarchy was abolished on Sept. 21, 1792; later Louis and his queen consort, Marie-Antoinette, were guillotined on charges of counterrevolution.

Early life and accession
Louis was the third son of the dauphin Louis and his consort Maria Josepha of Saxony. At first known as the duc de Berry, he became the heir to the throne on his father’s death in 1765. His education was entrusted to the duc de La Vauguyon (Antoine de Quélen de Caussade). He was taught to avoid letting others know his thoughts, which has led to sharp disagreement about his intelligence. Louis nevertheless possessed an excellent memory, acquired a sound knowledge of Latin and English, and took an interest in history and geography. In 1770 he married the Austrian archduchess Marie-Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa and the Holy Roman emperor Francis I.

On the death of his grandfather Louis XV, Louis succeeded to the French throne on May 10, 1774. At that time he was still immature, lacking in self-confidence, austere in manner, and, because of a physical defect (later remedied by an operation), unable to consummate his marriage. Well-disposed toward his subjects and interested in the conduct of foreign policy, Louis had not sufficient strength of character or power of decision to combat the influence of court factions or to give the necessary support to reforming ministers, such as Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot or Jacques Necker, in their efforts to shore up the tottering finances of the ancien régime.

In late 1774 he reversed Louis XV’s and Chancellor René Maupeou’s controversial attempt to reduce the powers of the parlements that had been undertaken in 1771; this decision was popular but placed obstacles in the way of any major reforms. His approval of French military and financial support for the American colonists led to a foreign policy success, but the borrowing required to pay for the war drove the government to the brink of bankruptcy and led the king to support the radical fiscal, economic, and administrative reforms proposed by Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, the controller-general of finance, in 1787. The refusal of a specially summoned Assembly of Notables to approve these measures, and the opposition of the parlements, forced the king in July 1788 to summon the Estates-General—the representatives of the clergy, nobility, and commoners—for the following year and thus set in motion the Revolution.


Louis’s reaction to the Revolution
After 1789 Louis XVI’s incapacity to rule, his irresolution, and his surrender to reactionary influences at court were partially responsible for the failure to establish in France the forms of a limited constitutional monarchy. He allowed himself to be persuaded that royal dignity required him to avoid communication with the deputies assembled at Versailles, and he made no attempt to lay out a program that might have attracted their support. At critical moments, he was distracted by the illness and death of his eldest son, the dauphin (June 4, 1789).

By this time the fundamental weakness of the king’s character had become evident. Lethargic in temperament, lacking political insight, and therefore incapable of appreciating the need to compromise, Louis continued to divert himself by hunting and with his personal hobbies of making locks and doing masonry. His dismissal of Necker in early July 1789 set off popular demonstrations culminating in the storming of the Bastille, which forced the king to accept the authority of the newly proclaimed National Assembly. Despite his reluctance, he had to endorse its "destruction" of the feudal regime and its Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August. The king privately continued to believe that the Revolution would burn itself out. Publicly, however, he appeared ready to accept his new role as constitutional monarch, and gestures such as his visit to Paris after the storming of the Bastille led to an upsurge in his popularity; in early August 1789 the National Assembly proclaimed him the “restorer of French liberty.”


Attempt to flee the country
Louis’s resistance to popular demands was one of the causes of the forcible transfer of the royal family from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris on October 6. Yet he made still more mistakes, refusing to follow the secret advice tendered to him after May 1790 by the comte de Mirabeau, abdicating his responsibilities, and acquiescing in a disastrous attempt to escape from the capital to the eastern frontier on June 21, 1791. Caught at Varennes and brought back to Paris, he lost credibility as a constitutional monarch. Thenceforward he seems to have been completely dominated by the queen, who must bear the chief blame for the court’s subsequent political duplicity.

From the autumn of 1791 the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious prospects of foreign intervention. At the same time, he encouraged the Girondin faction in the Legislative Assembly (which had succeeded the National Assembly in September 1791) in their policy of war with Austria, in the expectation that French military disaster would pave the way for the restoration of his authority. Prompted by Marie-Antoinette, Louis rejected the advice of the moderate constitutionalists, led by Antoine Barnave, to faithfully implement the constitution of 1791, which he had sworn to maintain, and committed himself to a policy of subterfuge and deception.

The outbreak of the war with Austria in April 1792, the suspected machinations of the queen’s “Austrian committee,” and the publication of the manifesto by the Austrian commander, the duke of Brunswick, threatening the destruction of Paris if the safety of the royal family were again endangered, led to the capture of the Tuileries by the people of Paris and provincial militia on Aug. 10, 1792. It also led to the temporary suspension of the king’s powers by the Legislative Assembly and the proclamation of the First French Republic on September 21. In November, proof of Louis XVI’s secret dealings with Mirabeau and of his counterrevolutionary intrigues with the foreigners was found in a secret cupboard in the Tuileries. On December 3 it was decided that Louis, who together with his family had been imprisoned since August, should be brought to trial for treason. He himself appeared twice before the Convention (December 11 and 23).


Condemnation to death
Despite the last-minute efforts of the Girondins to save him, Citizen Capet, as he was then called, was found guilty by the National Convention and condemned to death on Jan. 18, 1793, by 387 votes (including 26 in favour of a debate on the possibility of postponing execution) to 334 (including 13 for a death sentence with the proviso that it should be suspended). When a final decision on the question of a respite was taken on January 19, Louis was condemned to death by 380 votes to 310. He was guillotined in the Place de la Révolution in Paris on Jan. 21, 1793. Nine months later his wife met the same fate. Louis XVI’s courage on June 20, 1792, when the royal palace was invaded by the Paris mob after his dismissal of the Girondin ministry, and his dignified bearing during his trial and at the moment of execution did something to redeem, but did not reestablish, his reputation.

Albert Goodwin
Jeremy David Popkin

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


Louis XVI by Antoine-François Callet, 1786

 


Louis XVI, monarque absolu Tableau d'Antoine Francois Callet(1779)

 

 

 

Marie-Antoinette
queen of France
in full Marie-Antoinette-Josèphe-Jeanne d’Autriche-Lorraine (Austria-Lorraine), originally German Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna von Österreich-Lothringen

born November 2, 1755, Vienna, Austria
died October 16, 1793, Paris, France

Main
queen consort of King Louis XVI of France (1774–93). Imprudent and an enemy of reform, she helped provoke the popular unrest that led to the French Revolution and to the overthrow of the monarchy in August 1792.

The 11th daughter of the Holy Roman emperor Francis I and Maria Theresa, Marie-Antoinette was married in 1770 to the dauphin Louis, grandson of France’s King Louis XV. The timid, uninspiring Louis proved to be an inattentive husband; by the time he ascended the throne in 1774, Marie-Antoinette had withdrawn into the companionship of a small circle of court favourites.

Her extravagant court expenditures contributed—though to a minor degree—to the huge debt incurred by the French state in the 1770s and ’80s. Louis XVI’s inability to consummate their marriage and the queen’s resultant childlessness in the 1770s inspired rivals—including the king’s own brothers, who stood to inherit the throne if she did not produce a legitimate heir—to circulate slanderous reports of her alleged extramarital affairs. These vilifications culminated in the Affair of the Diamond Necklace (1785–86), in which the queen was unjustly accused of having formed an immoral relationship with a cardinal. The scandal discredited the monarchy and encouraged the nobles to oppose vigorously (1787–88) all the financial reforms advocated by the king’s ministers.

During these crises, as in those to come, Marie-Antoinette proved to be stronger and more decisive than her husband. After a crowd stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the queen failed to convince Louis to take refuge with his army at Metz. In August–September, however, she successfully prodded him to resist the attempts of the Revolutionary National Assembly to abolish feudalism and restrict the royal prerogative. As a result, she became the main target of the popular agitators, who attributed to her the celebrated and callous remark on being told that the people had no bread: “Let them eat cake!” (“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!”). In October 1789 popular pressure compelled the royal family to return from Versailles to Paris, where they became hostages of the Revolutionary movement.

Six months later Marie-Antoinette opened secret communications with the comte de Mirabeau, a prominent member of the National Assembly who hoped to restore the authority of the crown. Nevertheless, her mistrust of Mirabeau prevented the king from following his advice. After Mirabeau died in April 1791, she turned for assistance to a group of émigrés. They arranged for the king and queen to escape from Paris on the night of June 20, but Revolutionary forces apprehended the royal couple at Varennes (June 25) and escorted them back to Paris.

Marie-Antoinette then attempted to shore up the rapidly deteriorating position of the crown by opening secret negotiations with Antoine Barnave, leader of the constitutional monarchist faction in the Assembly. Barnave persuaded the king to accept publicly the new constitution (September 1791), but the queen undermined Barnave’s position by privately urging her brother, the Holy Roman emperor Leopold II, to conduct a counterrevolutionary crusade against France. Leopold avoided acceding to her demands. After France declared war on Austria in April 1792, Marie-Antoinette’s continuing intrigues with the Austrians further enraged the French. Popular hatred of the queen provided impetus to the insurrection that overthrew the monarchy on August 10, 1792.

Marie-Antoinette spent the remainder of her life in Parisian prisons. Louis XVI was executed on orders from the National Convention in January 1793, and in August the queen was put in solitary confinement in the Conciergerie. She was brought before the Revolutionary tribunal on October 14, 1793, and was guillotined two days later.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 


Marie Antoinette by Jean-Etienne Liotard, 1762

 


Marie Antoinette by Van Meytens, 1767.

 


Marie Antoinette at the spinet, by Franz Xaver Wagenschon (1768)

 


Marie Antoinette, at the age of thirteen, by Joseph Ducreux (1769)

 


Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1778)

 


Marie-Antoinette 1778, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

 


Queen Marie Antoinette, portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, 1783

 


Queen Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth-Louise Vigee-Lebrun, 1783

 


Marie Antoinette Queen of France with her three oldest children, Marie-Thérèse, Louis-Charles and Louis-Joseph.
Sophie Hélène Béatrix de France, Mademoiselle Sophie, originally in the cradle, was painted out after her death.
By Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1787)

 


Marie Antoinette Queen of France

 


Marie Antoinette, by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1788)

 


Marie Antoinette, 1791, by Alexandre Kucharsky

 

 

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