Manuscript DS in French, signed “Payez, Marie Antoinette,” one page, 9.5 x 14.5, December 31, 1788. The document is addressed “To the Chancellor’s Secretary, Reward, 100 pounds, This last month 1788, Treasurer General,” and goes on to command (translated), “we want to have and be told what the State has decided for the maintenance and food for several of our officers during this year. You will pay in cash to the Secretary of Lord our Chancellor, the sum of one hundred pounds which we have granted him in this season in consideration of the service he has provided us with quality during the past six months. This letter to you should suffice and allocated as an expense against our account by our dear and beloved treasurer of the King, our honored Lord and Husband in Paris, whom we beg and ask to do so without difficulty.” Boldly signed at the conclusion by Marie Antoinette to approve the payment, also bearing Marie’s secretarial proxy signature by Beauregard. Ornately matted and framed beside a portrait of the queen to an overall size of 24.5 x 23.5. In fine condition, with central vertical and horizontal folds, and two small areas of paper loss to edges. Oversized.
As a financial document reimbursing provisions for “several of our officers,” this is an intriguing piece on multiple levels—it dates to the height of the financial crisis in France before it burst into revolution just months later with the Storming of the Bastille. The revolt was largely motivated by social inequality between the lower classes and nobility, and Marie Antoinette’s frivolous lifestyle came to symbolize all that the peasants resented. It is also interesting to note that this document regards payment for food, a connection to the famous quote attributed to Marie Antoinette, ‘Let them eat cake’—an apocryphal statement reflecting her disconnect with the lower classes. All together a fascinating and extremely desirable document. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.