updated: 06/12/2006

C18th makeups: The Affair of the Necklace

The Affair of the Necklace is based on a real scandal in pre-revolutionary France that helped destroy the reputation of Marie Antoinette (Joely Richardson) and thus may have hastened the revolution: it certainly contributed to the hatred felt for her when the revolution came. Louis, cardinal de Rohan, while French Envoy to Austria wrote that Marie Antoinette’s mother, the Empress, had begged him for her turn in his bed. When the letter was intercepted he found his ambition to become Prime Minister of France unsurprisingly blocked by Marie Antoinette. The comtesse de la Motte, an impoverished aristocrat named Jeanne Saint-Rémy de Valois, became aware of Rohan’s desire to befriend the queen; she first became his mistress and then set about hatching an ingenious plan to make a small fortune for herself in the process. Marie Antoinette had refused to buy a magnificent diamond necklace from the royal jewellers. The comtesse de la Motte, pretending to be an intimate friend of the queen’s, persuaded the cardinal that the queen secretly desired the necklace. He paid for the necklace and delivered it to her home and then it vanished. The comtesse de la Motte was condemned to be whipped, branded and shut up in the prostitutes’ prison, the Salpêtrière; Her husband (who had disappeared with the necklace) was condemned in his absence to the galleys for life. Villette was banished. The comtesse later escaped to London and published her Mémoires in which she accused the queen.

Mario Michisanti and Gino Tamagnini were the key makeup artists; Enrico Jacoponi and Vincenzo Mastrantonio were the makeup artists.