Family learn mirror in their loo once belonged to Marie Antoinette

A very royal throne! Stunned family learn mirror hanging in their downstairs loo for 40 years once belonged to last queen of France Marie Antoinette and is worth more than £10,000

  • Family inherited mirror from a family friend in the 1980s after they passed away
  • When they took it for appraisal, auctioneer was excited to discover provenance
  • Mirror can be traced right back to Marie Antoinette via Napoleon’s wife, Eugenie
  • The antique mirror is set to be sold at auction in Bristol on Friday, November 13 

A family were literally sitting on a fortune after discovering a mirror next to the ‘throne’ in their loo once belonged – to Marie Antoinette.

The antique had been on the toilet wall for 40 years – with the owner unaware it was used by the last Queen of France.

It measures just 50cm by 40cm and is thought to have formed part of a larger display in one of Antoinette’s French palaces.

A family were sitting on a fortune after discovering they had a mirror once owned by Marie Antoinette – hanging in their downstairs loo. Pictured: Auctioneer Andy Stowe with the mirror


The antique had been on the toilet wall for 40 years – with the owner unaware it was was used by the last Queen of France. It measures just 50cm by 40cm and was part of larger collection

She became a Royal after marrying Louis XVI and was executed during the revolution after famously declaring of the poor ‘let them eat cake’.

Her mirror is now set to fetch at least £10,000 at an auction in Bristol after it was discovered.

The mirror is thought to have belonged to Napoleon’s wife Eugenie, who had an obsession with Antoinette.

She purchased items from her personal estate and even held an exhibition in her honour.

It came in to the present ownership in the early 1980s when it was handed down through inheritance.

Aiden Khan of East Bristol Auctions said: ‘Its remarkable to think this mirror, with its incredible history, has been sat on a wall of a downstairs loo for so long.

Marie Antoinette, pictured, was the last queen of France and helped provoke the popular unrest that led to the French Revolution and the monarchy being overthrown in August 1792

‘It’s a real piece of history- a tangible link to one of the most famous figures of the eighteenth century.’

The mirror is mounted in a finely carved Walnut frame with leaves and vines in an attempt to make it more useable.

‘With something like this, provenance is everything,’ adds Auctioneer Andrew Stowe.

‘This has a wonderful paper trail – it actually appears in a catalogue from an auction held in 1880 at Camden House in Kent, for the estate of the late Napoleon III, in which is it noted as a ‘toilet-glass in an Indian Wood frame.’

‘When we saw that, it pretty much sealed it as the real-deal.’

The mirror was purchased in the 1950s by a friend of the current owner’s family, and when that original purchaser passed away in the eighties, it was inherited by the Grandmother of the now-owner.

An inscription on the mirror which shows the antique’s provenance tracing back to Napoleon

‘They never really thought it to be worth anything, and they seemed to find it more interesting than valuable,’ adds Stowe.

‘When they first brought it to our attention, we were certainly keen to explore its history, and then once we discovered all of this incredible evidence it really did become something special.

‘To think one of the most famous historical figures looked into this very mirror is just spellbinding.’

The mirror features as part of East Bristol’s Specialist ‘Fine Art & Antiques Auction’ to be held on Friday November 13 at 10am.

WHO WAS MARIE ANTOINETTE, THE LAST QUEEN OF FRANCE?

Born: November 2, 1755 in Vienna, Austria                                                                              Died: October 16, 1793 in Paris, France

Marie Antoinette was the last queen of France and helped provoke the popular unrest that led to the French Revolution and the monarchy being overthrown in August 1792.

She was born Maria Antonia Josepha Joanna to Maria Theresa, empress of Austria, and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I in 1755. She was their 15th and youngest child.

Aged just 14, she married King Louis XVI. She was said to be very different in character from her husband, while he was introverted and shy, she was a social butterfly who loved gambling, partying and extravagant fashions. 

Her marriage to the future king of France, himself just 15 years old, was used to seal the newfound alliance between Austria and France after the Seven Years’ War. It is believed the couple didn’t consummate their marriage for seven years.

During her teenage years she was popular in France and when she made her first appearance in Paris a crowd of 50,000 came out to see her. It is thought at least 30 people were trampled to death in the crush to see her.

But her popularity swiftly fell over her reign and she became a symbol of the excesses of the monarchy. She is often credited with the famous quote ‘Let them eat cake’ – but there is no evidence she actually said it. Anecdotes say upon hearing French people had no bread to eat she said ‘qu’ils mangent de la brioche’ (let them eat brioche).

However, historians agree that it is unlikely she would have made such a comment, as she was known for her charity and compassion, despite her hedonistic lifestyle. The comment however may have been made by Marie-Thérèse, a Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660.    

Nine months after the execution of her husband, she was executed by the guillotine order of the Revolutionary tribunal, aged just 37.

There were many trumped up charges against the former Queen including high treason, sexual promiscuity and incestuous relations with her son Louis-Charles, who was forced to testify that his mother had molested him.

Following her beheading, her body was placed in an unmarked grave but in 1815 it was exhumed and she given a funeral at the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis.

Sources: Biography.com and Britannica

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