The Antoinette Project

I have recently begun a personal project to explore different characters with photographers-  so when Philippe Michel Smith approached me to photograph as one of his favorite Queens in history; Marie Antoinette-  I was absolutely thrilled.

The world is filled with stories about the doomed queen, but  I see these stories much in the way I see modern tabloid magazines.  My own view is that it is hard to truly know a woman who was first celebrated, then despised and held up as a symbol of the Revolution.

I had a concept that I wanted to portray a woman who was both a Glamorized Extravagant Queen as well as a Mother and a Human being.  I brought along my young and beautiful friend Rowan-  who completely brought the human element to this shoot.

We had an absolutely magical time at the beautiful Rippavilla Plantation in Spring Hill Tennessee, enjoying our chance to be Royalty for a few hours.

Drew Seeley did a fantastic job with Make Up, and I was over the moon with my full costume from Performance Studios in Nashville. My favorite touch was when Drew and I worked together to weave flowers and my Grandmothers jewelry into the wig.  Philippe was a joy to work with.  Unlike most photographers I’ve worked with in this digital age- he carefully and painstakingly sets up his lighting and then thoughtfully shoots only 2-4 images of each look.  He has been editing for 20 years-  so the magic really comes into play when he uses his digital photo artistry to add in authentic french wallpaper, and turns wicker chairs in to thrones.

I was so delighted to be a part of this project.  I hope you enjoy these Behind the Scenes and Final Photographs.

When you’re Wig and Makeup look this good- a Selfie is a must…
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En Route to Rippavilla…
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Such an incredible space. The entire downstairs is an open layout,  such fun to wander about.
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Rowan: young beauty, old soul
We could not stay out of this beautiful Sun Room…

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We turned this Kroger cake into magic with twigs from the garden and some fake blooms.
marie a portrait
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Philippe Michel Smith’s Magic…


“I love you madly.  There is never a moment when I don’t adore you…” 


“In January of 1792, less than two years before she lost her head to the guillotine, Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen composed a secret letter.

The letter’s sentimental declarations were later blacked out, and for good reason. Its recipient was not her husband, King Louis XVI, but her alleged longtime lover, the Swedish Count Axel von Fersen.” (see original post from The Daily Beast here)


“Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end. ” SONY DSC

“But how will I eat cake if my head is over there, and my hands are over here?”


“The truth is that, in times of turmoil, people look for a scapegoat to sacrifice. Marie Antoinette just happened to be the French Revolution’s favorite It girl. To be fair, Marie Antoinette lived in a world which she was expected to obey her husband as if he were God,, to spill forth children as if she were Eve— and then accept that aristocrats ate cake while peasants had no bread. After all, it was divine will and all that.”
― Kris Waldherr, Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di


“I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all”


“No one understands my ills, nor the terror that fills my breast, who does not know the heart of a mother.”

marie blue“I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.”

One Reply to “The Antoinette Project”

  1. To say that Elisabeth portrayed the role of Queen & Mother Marie Antoinette with genuine perfection would be an understatement. The surprise and very welcome addition of little Miss Rowan as her daughter for this project definitely upped the level of humanism on set and in the final results.

    As a photographer, my personal style of shooting is casual,as I like to let things unfold naturally through the course of a session but always with a sense of definitive storytelling. That being said, when you work with someone the likes of Elisabeth Donaldson, no matter the story, your work will always have a ( lived happily ever after) ending.

    Thank you sincerely and with great admiration, Philippe Michel Smith

    Liked by 1 person

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