Marie Antoinette at Petit Trianon
Heritage Interpretation and Visitor Perceptions
Marie Antoinette at Petit Trianon challenges common perceptions of the last Queen of France, appraising the role she played in relation to the events of French Revolution through an original analysis of contemporary heritage practices and visitor perceptions at her former home, the Petit Trianon.
Controversy and martyrdom have placed Marie Antoinette’s image within a spectrum of cultural caricatures that range from taboo to iconic. With a foundation in critical heritage studies, this book examines the diverse range of contemporary images portraying Marie Antoinette’s historical character, showing how they affect the interpretation and perception of the Petit Trianon.
By considering both producers and receivers of these cultural heritage exponents - Marie Antoinette’s historical figure and the historic house museum of the Petit Trianon - the book expands current understandings of twenty-first century cultural heritage perceptions in relation to tourism and popular culture. A useful case study for academics, researchers and postgraduate students of cultural heritage, it will also be of interest to historians, keepers of house museums and those working in the field of tourism studies.
Table of Contents
1. ‘Places of memory’ in the nationalist era of the French Third Republic
2. ‘Places of memory’ anchored in postmodernity
3. Methodology and fieldwork research at the Petit Trianon
4. Historical and cinematic narratives encoding Marie Antoinette’s contemporary perception
5. Eighteenth-century architectural and heritage narratives of the Petit Trianon
6. ‘Memories’ of Marie Antoinette: Field research evidence at the Petit Trianon
7. ‘Ange ou Démon?’ Contemporary images of the last Queen of France at the Petit Trianon
Denise Maior-Barron is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Tourism at Plymouth University, UK, and a Reader at the Huntington Library, California, USA. She obtained her PhD from Plymouth University in collaboration with the Château de Versailles, France, following two consecutive research internships at this UNESCO heritage site. Her research focuses on critical cultural heritage and tourist consumption, with an emphasis on rehabilitative history and popular representations in the social imaginary.
“Marie-Antoinette has become a ‘commodity’ for audiences the world over, and the restored Petit Trianon floods with visitors. This fine book by Denise Maior-Barron brings a completely new, multidisciplinary perspective, omitting none of the historical or socio-political aspects of the Queen’s mythology. The confrontation set out by the author between the work of historians and visitor perceptions will undoubtedly provoke passionate debate, just as it will reveal the deep gap between myth and objective research.”
Jérémie Benoit, Chief Curator, Petit Trianon, France
“Denise Maior-Barron cleverly unveils the many ways Marie Antoinette was and is perceived. Her well-researched book provides new insights about interactions within the heritage process and industry, between politics, popular culture and tourism, which reveal how history, with help from artificial memories, is often manipulated, misinterpreted and misunderstood. In so doing, she challenges the orthodoxy of much historical analysis that seeks only one truth in the past.”
John Barnes, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces, UK
“'Not just a monograph on two topics of apparently perennial public interest, Marie Antoinette and the Petit Trianon, but a fascinating bran tub of related themes: historical revision, art and architectural history, political manipulation, the falsifications of mass media promotion and so it goes on.'
Martin Foley, Director, El Porvenir, Casa Museo Feliciano Béjar, Mexico