Marie Antoinette is arguably one of the most famous historical figures. Best known for her lavishly extravagant lifestyle and death at the hands of the French Revolution, she has become a part of pop culture. Historians have long debated if she was the cause for the French Revolution or with more sympathetic eyes, if she was treated unjustly. While we might never have an answer to that question, we know she has influenced the world following her death at the galantine for over 200 years.
Marie Antoinette’s passion for the arts has carried on in her death through the many works that have been produced surrounding her life and legacy. Countless films and books and plays have attempted to tell the story of the extravagant Marie. The latest of which is a Houston Ballet’s Marie that seeks to ask through dance if Marie Antoinette was a “Villain or victim? Haughty queen or impetuous girl?” This highly reviewed ballet was in Ottawa last weekend at the National Arts Centre. Take advantage of more ballets, music, and theatre performances at the NAC with the Live Rush program that lets students buy tickets the day before a show for only 12$. More information can be found at http://nac-cna.ca/liverush
Ironically the French Revolution changed the face of one of Marie Antoinette’s most beloved things, paintings. Neoclassicism became the predominate style as French painters claimed art and embraced its moral and political purpose. Influential French artists such as Jacques-Louis David mixed art and politics in the bold contrasts of colour and clear tones found in 18th and 19th century French neoclassicism. You can see examples of these works at the National Art Gallery, which is free to the general public (along with many other Museums in Ottawa) from 5-8 on Thursdays, or regularly 7$ for students. See the website for upcoming special exhibits and more http://www.gallery.ca
While her own political clout within the French governance has been debated, Marie Antoinette was well read and enjoyed studying ancient cultures such as the Incas and was fascinated by philosophy, particularly the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. However as can not all benefit from the lavish life she had that included vast amounts of time to study topics of interest, take advantage of free lectures put on by the Faculty of Social Sciences covering a variety of current issues and topics in English and French. The list of upcoming lectures can be found here: http://www.socialsciences.uottawa.ca/events?month=10&year=2012
The life, and beheading, of Marie Antoinette has had long lasting impacts on today’s society. The French Revolution resulted in radical social change and is seen as the end of the early modern period, the “dawn of the modern era”. It helped create a chain of reactions throughout the world spreading the concept of democracy and had profound impacts on events such as the Russian Revolution and other revolutionist and nationalist sentiments in all corners of the globe that are even referenced in contemporary politics. Marie Antoinette, an avid lover of the arts and history, has herself been embedded in history as one of the most recognizable historical figures, her most famous words that she spewed at the height of her extravagance, still resound with us today, “Let them eat cake.”