Artists' Images and the Self-Descriptions of Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans (1652-1722), the Second Madame

Author: William Brooks
Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans, (1652-1722), the Palatine princess who became the second wife of Monsieur and the mother of the Regent, is well known for the thousands of letters she wrote about her life at the court of Louis XIV and during the Regency, many of which have been anthologized. She if further defined for many by Rigaud’s sumptuous court portrait of her in old age. Many other portraits of her were made by both painters and engravers, and in the course of her letters she penned many self-descriptions and wrote about some of the paintings and engravings. This is the first ever comprehensive study of her physical image and her self-image, using all available evidence, both visual and verbal.


"Aided by his long-time collaborator P.J. Yarrow, William Brooks is the first scholar to embark on the ambitious project to make a comprehensive study of the visual images of Madame as seen through portrait paintings and engravings ... William Brooks’s well-researched and rigorously argued book is seminal to the study of Madame and early modern portraiture.” – Dr. Henriette Goldwyn, Professor of French, New York University

“In this admirable study, Dr. Brooks brings us face-to-face with the physical reality of this engaging princess (and indefatigable letter-writer) who had few illusions about her appearance, whilst also drawing attention to unknown portraits and correcting errors of attribution. At the same time, he introduces us smoothly into the busy world of the portrait painters, draftsmen, and engravers who gravitated around major figures, producing images of them in which flattery overrode fidelity.” – Professor Dirk Van der Cruysse, Belgian Royal Academy

“Dr. William Brooks has written the first comprehensive study of the iconography of Elisabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans, one of the most fascinating women from France of the Ancien Régime. Exhaustively researched and vividly written, Dr. Brooks’s book traces and analyzes over one hundred-fifty engraved and painted portraits of the Duchess through the lens of her colorful epistolary self-descriptions and in their wider artistic, historical and socio-cultural contexts.” – Dr. Elise Goodman, Professor of Art History, University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface by Henriette Goldwyn
The Image of Elisabeth Charlotte
Daughter of Elector Palatine
The Young Madame
A Fat Old Pagod
Duchesse douairière d’Orléans
Last Years: Images from the Regency
Mare’s Nest, Wild Geese, and Red Herrings
Conclusion Bibliography
Index by P.J. Yarrow