It is difficult to imagine that life in an 18th century royal French court would be a crashing bore, but apparently that is how the dauphine, Marie Frivole found it. Otherwise, why would she send a battalion of besotted but otherwise idle courtiers out to scour the countryside for a look-alike to take her place at palace functions? When one thinks of royal life, it is the grand balls, cotillions, masquerades and enormous feasts that come to mind, and those were diverting, it’s true. However, most days unspooled in a gaping tedium of dull visiting dignitaries, religious observances and stultifying state funerals and Marie simply could bear it no longer. Delphine d’Etoile, a lovely but simple country girl, was hunched over a wash tub, scrubbing away at a wine stain on her best chemise when the dauphine’s courtiers came thundering up to her on their magnificent and terrifying horses. “_Sacre bleu_!” exclaimed the head courtier, “she’s a twin!” He unceremoniously swept the startled girl up onto his mount and curtly explained, “Your services are required by the future queen” and galloped away with her in a cloud of dust. And that is how Delphine found herself ensconced in the Palais de Versailles being powdered, plucked and painted into an exact replica of Marie Frivole. Exhaustive lessons in etiquette and comportment ensued, and the day soon came when she was to be presented to the dauphine. Now, besides being somewhat flighty and incredibly spoiled, Marie was deeply narcissistic. She took one look at Delphine and fell deeply and madly in love with her. Delphine wasn’t sure she was in love, but dressing up as a conquering general and cavorting with the lovely dauphine under the watchful eye of her pet peacock, Baroque, certainly beat scrubbing laundry in a creek any day. They drank, they ate, they spent vast sums, they disported themselves upon every chaise in the palace and the dauphine’s ladies-in-waiting scrambled to make excuses for her absences. Despite pleas for the dauphine’s caution, the two women were inseparable, and the uproarious scandal that followed is rumored to be the true reason for the decimation of the monarchy in France.
This original artwork and story are copyright Ramona Szczerba 2009. Copyright to this material is in no way transferable with the sale of this item. The buyer is not entitled to any reproduction rights – neither image nor story can be reproduced without my express written permission. Thanks!