On 31 May 1793, Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, the Queen’s protégée, was received into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture along with her rival, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard. In the same year, she exhibited for the first time in the Salon. Vigée-Le Brun presented notably a new portrait of the Queen wearing the “gaulle” or “blouse dress”. Adapted to Parisian fashion by the dressmaker Rose Bertin, this muslin dress was the Queen’s favourite one during her stays at the Petit Trianon, away from the court. The visitors of the Salon were shocked by this portrait: in their view the Queen was not dressed as befitted her rank. So the painting was quickly withdrawn. Vigée-Le Brun then quickly painted a second portrait to be exhibited before the end of the Salon. Repeating the pose of the first painting, she dressed the Queen this time in a classic blue-grey silk dress, marking the implicit support of Marie-Antoinette for the silk-weavers of Lyon. The presentation of this second portrait was a big success. Several replicas of it were made, including one in the Palace of Versailles.
Photo © EPV/ Jean-Marc Manaï