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Frances Evelyn (Daisy),
Countess of Warwick,
née Maynard

as Marie Antoinette (1755-1793)

One of the central characters of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, the Countess of Warwick was the most glamorous English aristocrat and chatelaine of the suitably romantic Warwick Castle.

Known to all society as one of the "most tempestuous and most fascinating of the Prince of Wales's great ladies" and one of the fastest women in the "fast set", she led a carefree life until her own costume ball in 1895 when she was criticised in print for her extravagance and lack of philanthropy. Although at first incensed by the article, Daisy shortly became converted to socialism and it was said that "her ... advocacy of the redistribution of property was backed by long experience in the redistribution of spouses."

The Duchess of Connaught in 1904 wrote that Lady Warwick was the most complete Edwardian even though she did not maintain the tradition of discretion and "danced outside the pale."

For the Ball, Daisy personified Marie Antoinette, daughter of Marie Theresa and Francis I of Austria. As the spouse of Louis XVI, she followed him to the guillotine in 1793. The sangfroid with which she approached her own death inspired many poetic homages.

copyright V&AHer costume, made by Worth of Paris, was first seen at her now famous 1895 ball. It consisted of a bodice and paniers of pink and gold flowered brocade and gold lace studded with silver sequins and diamonds. The square-cut neck was trimmed with old lace, and the chiffon sleeves were divided into small puffs with gold lace sparkling with jewels. The front of the bodice was festooned with diamond rivières. The train of turquoise velvet was lined with gold and sequin lace and embroidered all over at equal distances with raised gold fleur-de-lis. In her coiffure poudrée, Daisy wears a diamond kokoshnik tiara holding ostrich and aigrette feathers. The costume appears to be modelled on a drawing by Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun entitled "La reine Marie Antoinette dans le parc de Versailles" (1780).

These two images are dated 20 July 1897 and was made at the Lafayette studio. In the full-length portrait, the studio assistant's hand can be seen to the far right of the photograph, holding the Rococo-style painted backdrop taught.


Negative number: V&A L1470b and L1470d, 20-07-1897