A Guitar Thought To Once Belong To Marie Antoinette Could Be Worth Tens Of Thousands

It is a little-known fact that the unfortunate long-dead queen of France, Marie Antoinette, was a surprisingly good musician. As a child, the Austrian princess took to music and she was known for her excellent singing voice (via Château de Versailles). Antoinette could play both the harp and the harpsichord, and her personal guitar — now for sale — was a masterfully crafted work of art. Although you may not picture the late queen of France strumming out tunes at an 18th-century party, an instrument believed to be the queen's old instrument has resurfaced recently in France (via Tatler).  

Horrible slander against Antoinette leading up to the Revolution cast her as a mindless bimbo and has followed her into the present. However, the doomed queen was talented in many respects, and in her day, she had a powerful musical legacy (via Royal Central). The royal music fan sponsored the great German composer Gluck, among many others, and she was fortunate enough to meet the rock star-of-her-day Mozart when he a young child prodigy. Antoinette was fond of performing at parties, and you can still listen to one of her musical arrangements for the harp, online.

More than a pretty face

The guitar in question is an elegant rosewood instrument made in Paris, in 1775, by Jacques-Philippe Michelot. Decorated with attractive ebony and ivory inlays, it is believed to be worth up to $84,000 (via CNN).

The instrument has been dubbed the "Trianon guitar" after the Queen's private retreat located on the sprawling grounds of Versailles Palace (via Château de Versailles). This palace within a palace was a place for Antoinette and her close friends to relax — and perhaps rock out, on occasion. The Temple of Love, a tiny neoclassical building built in the gardens of the Petit Trianon, is depicted in ivory on the guitar, topped with two doves (via Château de Versailles).

The rare instrument is an en bateau, or "boat-shaped," and has been described by experts as "a treasure of refinement" that is "... exquisite both aesthetically and technically." Auctioneers say that they have collected sufficient evidence to prove that the guitar was probably owned by the late queen.

The guitar recovered

Antoinette's guitar appears to have been a gift from King Louis XVI to his young bride, but the queen then passed the guitar on to a close friend, Louise, the Marquise de La Rochelambert-Thévalles (via Tatler). Louise was born at Versailles and became part of Antoinette's close circle at the Trianon. Like the queen herself, Louise was known to be a talented musician and singer, and the pair performed together at royal parties.

Although Queen Antoinette got the chop, Louise managed to survive the bloodiest period of the French Revolution, after fleeing France and hiding out in Switzerland as an exile. During a dark period known as "the reign of terror," countless members of the aristocracy were executed by the revolutionaries (via LiveScience).

The instrument survived, however, and was later passed on to the Marquise's nephew, Henri. It remained in the family for generations, until it was finally handed over to the Aguttes auction house in France for sale (via CNN).