Trivia ‘Toinette # 10: Antoinette and her sister Charlotte were “dead ringers”

Actually, Marie Antoinette and Maria Carolina are still confused for one another in various paintings. Frankly, taking a look at these two, can you blame anyone? No, it doesn’t help that the sisters appear to be wearing the same dress. Isn’t it comforting to know that even princesses share hand-me-downs? Can you tell which one is which?

Maria Carolina and Marie Antoinette (future queens of Napes and France, respectively)

Yes, Maria Carolina, known affectionately as “Charlotte” by her family, is on the left. (How many of you got those two right?) Charlotte was only three years older than Antoinette and, like the twins they appeared to be, the two were best friends. Empress Maria Teresa actually endeavored to separate them, dilute their mischief, but to little avail.

Check out this picture, in which Maria Teresa had her two youngest daughters painted as goddesses, I’m almost 100% certain that Charlotte is on the left and Antoinette is on the right, especially considering the right-hand girl is sporting more baby fat.

maria antoinette and her sister maria carolina (future queen of naples)

the future Queen of Naples and the future Queen of France, respectively

I do apologize for not citing the artist nor the year, but this is just another example of how I collected countless pictures, right-clicking like there’s no tomorrow, long before I got around to starting a blog. In fact, with the number of pictures I’ve got here in iPhoto, I’d say I was planning a blog for about three years. Whoops…

Although Antoine and Charlotte were almost identical, the general consensus was that Marie Antoinette was prettier. (According to Antonia Frasier.) So, those of you who saw yesterday’s post, did you correctly guess which of the other two pictures pertain to which future queen?

marie antoinette and sister maria carolina

Maria Carolina in far left and center-left, Marie Antoinette in center-right and far right.

Maria Carolina aka Charlotte was born in 1752, the thirteenth child of Maria Theresa. Like so many of her siblings, her marriage was used to cement a political alliance, this one with the King of Spain, who wanted an archduchess for his son, Ferdinand IV the King of Naples and Sicily. According to Evelyne Lever, “Maria Teresa had previously wanted to separate the two adolescents to avoid [the hurt] feelings their attitude provoked…the two accomplices had continued their games. Carolina’s departure for Naples in April 1768 put an end to this close bond” (10).

Maria Carolina reportedly found a husband whose “face was very ugly and…behavior was often peculiar” (ibid). When she learned of her younger sister’s impending betrothal to the Dauphin of France, she wrote “I would like to write [to Antoinette] entire volumes on the subject…for I must say the agony suffered is all the greater in that one must always appear happy” (ibid).

Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples, and family

King Ferdinand IV and Queen Maria Carolina of Naples had seventeen children, only six of which are pictured here.

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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10 Responses to Trivia ‘Toinette # 10: Antoinette and her sister Charlotte were “dead ringers”

  1. J. G. Burdette says:

    The photo you have here ( I’ve never seen it before. They do look so alike. Before stumbling across your blog I didn’t realize this!


    • la dauphine says:

      Do you know that I’ve really only come across the “Maria Carolina” side of the pic…even yesterday as I image-searched like mad trying to find more info on it.

      For the life of me I do not know why it is always cropped. I think it shows a nice “age contrast” between the two sisters. (Either that or one side is warped…) I know their empress-mama had it commissioned, but I can’t remember what Grecian deities (demi-godesses?) they were supposed to be. Maybe your books hold the key?

      There must be some way to do a “reverse image look-up.” If not, I’ve just given the next tech genius his billion-dollar idea. (That’ll teach me to take notes before I right-click!)


      • J. G. Burdette says:

        I picked up a copy of Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette. I didn’t see the picture of the pair together and didn’t see any mention of it. I’ve got another few that I’ll pick up in another few days. If anything turns up I’ll let you know!


        • la dauphine says:

          what was I looking at? Zweig has no pictures (iBooks, sigh) Maybe Lever? Lemme get out the tomes!

          Oh! No, none of the biographies have the pictures together…I put the collage together using I meant that each of the four paintings was a right-click. Though, entre nous, prior to this weekend, I’d never seen that far-left picture of “Charlotte” before. (I think you can find it on Wikipedia Commons.)

          I just found the other Charlotte picture in Frasier, on the last page of the first clump of glossies. Hey! Low and behold, the clavichord pic of Antoinette is the first one of the second clump of glossies. I can’t even remember when I read this one…four or five years ago. I just remember how it stuck in my head how MA tried Indian curry. (Check the Trivia ‘Toinette #1. That’s what inspired this blog.)

          The most familiar one is not in either biography. What a bunch of sleuth-work we’ve done for a bunch of pictures I had on my hard-drive! Kinda fun though. It gave me ideas for more posts! Cheers!

          PS I also take requests…anything you’d like to know?


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