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Last updated at 14:24 BST, Thursday, 18 October 2012

Auctioning Marie Antoinette's clothes

Summary

18 October 2012

A pair of Marie Antoinette's slippers and a garment she wore while in prison were auctioned in Paris to mark the anniversary of her execution. Among the 80 lots on offer were portraits and etchings of the queen and her ill-fated husband King Louis XVI.

Reporter:

Christian Fraser

A pair of Marie Antoinette's slippers

A pair of Marie Antoinette's slippers she wore while in prison.

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Report

Before Marie-Antoinette arrived at the guillotine, she amassed an opulent collection of artwork and furniture. And today, in Paris to mark the anniversary of her execution on the 16th October 1793, some of it goes under the hammer.

Of particular note: a pair of green and pink silk slippers which belonged to the queen. Not one of the shoes she dropped while climbing the scaffold - that still resides in a French museum. But there is a framed cotton sleeve of a garment she wore in prison. And a fragment of a patterned silk dress she owned before her arrest.

There are portraits and etchings of the king and queen, glassware, candelabras, dinner sets - and, among other historic artefacts, a fork and spoon from St Helena that belonged to Napoleon. All together they are the symbols of a decadent tyranny but they still hold great fascination - and not just to the French.

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Vocabulary

guillotine

machine used for execution, cutting off heads

amassed

collected

opulent

luxurious or expensive

execution

putting a person to death

goes under the hammer

is sold at an auction

scaffold

platform of the guillotine

fragment

very small piece

etchings

pictures created by scratching away the surface of something

artefacts

ancient, man-made object

tyranny

powerful or severe government regime

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