Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Madame sans tête"

credit: my collection

One of the more striking legends surrounding Marie Antoinette is the legend of the mirror in the Cabinet de la Meridienne. According to the legend, the mirror in the room was cut in such a way that, if someone were to approach it from a specific angle, it gives the illusion of a body--sans head. It is the perfect omen to include in the story of Marie Antoinette, a first sense of foreboding amidst the finery of her palace apartments.

The legend as told by A Versailles Christmas-tide:
"Viewed casually the triple mirror, lining an alcove wherein stands a couch garlanded with flowers, betrays no sinister qualities. But any visitor who approaches looking at his reflection where at the left the side panels meet the angle of the wall, will be greeted by a sight similar to that whose tragic suggestion made even the haughty Queen pause a moment in her reckless career. For in the innocent appearing mirrors the gazer is reflected without a head."
Is there any truth to the legend? I will admit--I'm not sure! I have searched through various books in the past few weeks but the most I have been able to find are those "legend has it..." type references as well as the two illustrations in this post, but nothing that I would consider concrete. Whatever the truth, it certainly makes for an odd and even unsettling little story.

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