Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Did Louis Look Like?

From History and Other Thoughts:
Louis XVI is often described as fat and ugly but when I look at pictures of this king painted in his youth, that's not what I see at all. Although I don't find him particularly good-looking, he's not ugly either and it's easy to see why his contemporaries thought him handsome. He was a tall, strong, athletic man with blue eyes, nice lips and an aquiline nose. Here's how Nesta Webster describes him in her book, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the Revolution:

Five foot ten inches in height, heavily built but not yet too fat, with well-shaped legs, a pleasant ruddy countenance and pale blue eyes, of which the benevolent expression was veiled only by short-sightedness, Louis XVI at nineteen was not unpleasing. His voice, harmonious in its normal key, only rose discordantly under the stress of emotion. Unfortunately he walked badly, with the swaying motion peculiar to his family, trudging, instead of sliding smoothly after the fashion that was de rigueur, over the polished floors of Versailles. [...] Simple, honest, kindly, plainly dressed in his unenbroidered coat of brown or grey, he looked in no way regal. [...] Louis himself was delicate in childhood, and only by the age of sixteen had he begun to acquire the robustness and strength of muscle which drove him to find a vent for his energies in hunting, shooting and working at his anvil.
Louis XVI may have put on weight in his later years, but as a young price, he was nice-looking. I think the only thing he lacked to really look regal was a good dose of self-confidence. What do you think? (Read entire post.)
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8 comments:

João Álvaro said...

Must be hard to keep fit in that time,its still hard nowadays!And I don't think they had all these exercises options,and must have been harder from woman,because of pregnancies.
Changing subjects,I would love to see a post here about Maria Leopoldina,grandniece of Marie Antoinette,and Empress of Brazil,she have a really amazing history.

Matterhorn said...

On a forum, I once saw someone suggest that Louis might have been more admired for his appearance had he lived in Germany. He seemed to take after the Saxon side of his family.

Christina said...

I was reading Carolly Erickson's biography of Josephine and she mentioned that Napoleon, after he made himself Emperor, deliberately tried to copy the swaying gait of Louis XVI. Very strange, no?

Gio said...

Thank you for the link love!

elena maria vidal said...

VERY strange! Thank you for the great comments, my friends!

lara77 said...

I am always puzzled by the physical descriptions of King Louis XVI. As if by making fun of him physically we can then destroy his mental capabilities. King George III was no looker and sadly his mental state left much to be desired. I look at King Louis XVI and see a good man, gentle,a caring husband and father. A man who loved the arts and science and wanted the best for his people. Finally, I see a King of France who would do anything to avoid the bloodshed of his people. THIS, an attribute lacking in the Corsican egomaniac who would murder thousands under his pretentious reign. I know the better man and he descends from a long line of men trained in kingship and in service to God and His people. Vive le Roi Louis XVI!

Brantigny said...

My goodness. It was good to see that someone thought enough to write a discription of the King, especially since wrote about Marie-Antoinette looked. he still today or rather in this time and age he wopuld fit in quite nicely with the population. The current king Louis XX strike a remarkable resemblance to him. If he got fat it was from what he ate, and what he drank. Too much carbohydrates. I am supprised he did not have gout. Thanks for the post Elena.

Matterhorn said...

I read in a Coursac book that MTC used to complain about the portraits of her father, saying he was better-looking than most images suggested.