The Marie-Antoinette exhibition graces the Grand Palais, and the lady’s still causing scandal…

The first exhibition about this exceptional figure since 1955, already making news for all the wrong reasons…


Austrian not French. Born Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen, but went by the much simpler name of Marie Antoine Josephine Jeanne de Bourbon. Married to Louis XVI at age 14, put to the guillotine before her 38th birthday. A life of wild orgies, endless parties…. or not really that much, depending on whose story you believe….

Many say that Marie Antoinette‘s reputation for excess (and anything else) has been much exaggerated, just as many are now saying that an exhibition about her is not really merited either. Did she encourage the arts during her rein, or was she simply a follower, a hanger-on? Either way, some see the exhibition at the Grand Palais to be proof of the dumbing down of culture, or the increasing Disneyfication of ‘theme park Paris’. None, however, doubt that it will be one of the main Spring events in Paris this year.

From 15th March to 30th June, the exhibition will bring together over 300 paintings, sculptures and other pieces of decorative art to try and find out what sort of woman Marie Antoinette really was, and why exactly she came to such a tragic end. It will also be the occasion for the organisers to sell Marie Antoinette necklaces (198 euros), Marie Antoinette scarves (29 euros), Marie Antoinette diaries (12 euros), Marie Antoinette mugs (9 euros)… can you see why people find the event slightly dubious?

Here’s all the essential information for the Marie Antoinette exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais

When: 15th March – 30th June 2008
Where: Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 3 avenue du Général-Eisenhower, Paris 8th arrondissement. Métro Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau (lines 1 &13). Bus n°s 28, 32, 42, 72, 73, 80, 83, 93
Opening hours / admission prices: yet to be decided. We’ll update this page as soon as we know!


Bigger map

P.S. More info on the Sofia Coppola film of Marie Antoinette here.