Sunday, August 22, 2010

"The Saintly Queen"

Here are the funerary statues, by Antonin Mercié, of King Louis-Philippe and Queen Marie-Amélie at the Chapelle Royale de Dreux. (Photographs courtesy of "Real politik"). I think the likenesses are masterful; in particular, the artist wonderfully captures Marie-Amélie's expression, conveying her goodness, wisdom, sorrow and nobility. I am reminded of a passage in C. C. Dyson's bittersweet account of her last years in exile at Claremont House:
Her demeanour was a lesson in itself. Dignity that was not without grace, supreme distinction, perfect affability, kindness, an instinctive tone of authority all declared the true Queen. A word from her to a child had more effect than severe punishments or reprimands. Her religion was a loveable religion. An old general of the Algerian wars was influenced by her to resume the practice of religious observance, and came to the Communion table in the Claremont Chapel with tears in his eyes. When her grandchildren grew older she set aside an hour a day to spend with them, and they never forgot her sayings and the advice then given to them. 
Those who saw her pray or receive the Sacraments, or heard her speak on some solemn subject, were deeply impressed, and used to call her "the saintly Queen." (C. C. Dyson, The Life of Marie-Amélie, Last Queen of the French: 1782-1866, 1910, pp. 294-295)

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