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Marie Antoinette Takes Kickstarter for a Spin

Vogue Cover September 2017 with Le Brun portrait
Marie Antoinette sets up her Kickstarter profile.
Marie Antoinette sets up her Kickstarter profile.


Today, we’re continuing our Legendary SEO series, which looks at content strategy with the aim of creating a healthy site. Our newest protagonist is Marie-Antoinette, who we have decided to let survive the French revolution and enter the modern era. This comes with a tricky concern, as she must decide what her post-queen career path will be. In composing a list of her skills, she grows decidedly nervous that anti-regime society will not be kind to her where the job market is concerned.


Marie-Antoinette Takes to Kickstarter


Let’s take a look at her career path had she made it through the bloody turn that French society took during her reign and time traveled to the here and now so we can strategically elevate her “brand.” We’ll have her capitalize on her experience as a portrait model since she had so much experience at sitting. Because old habits die hard (pun intended), this story has to involve a popularity contest for it to hold her attention for the long haul. What better way to test the power of her charms than with a Kickstarter campaign?


Vogue Cover September 2017 with Le Brun portrait
I’m pairing the cover of the 2017 September issue of Vogue that holds a portrait of Jennifer Lawrence, painted by John Currin for Vogue, with “The Bather,” a portrait Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun painted of her daughter Julie in 1792.


During her reign, Marie put famed portraitist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun on the map because she preferred her to other painters, which made Le Brun popular with the other habitués of Louis XVI’s court. Let’s bring the painter into modern times, as well, and have them both using digital platforms and portraiture in this exercise. It’s not at all far-fetched: consider the Vogue cover above and below paired with portraits by two famous court painters of the ancien régime, the modern painting a portrait of Jennifer Lawrence by John Currin, which he painted expressly for Vogue’s current issue.


Vogue Cover September 2017 with Madam Necker
The September Vogue cover paired with a portrait of Madame Necker, Suzanne Curchod, by Joseph Duplessis. Madame Necker was the mother of Anne Louise Germaine, the writer and philosopher known as Madame de Staël.


As she begins the process of figuring out her platform, Marie decides she must first text her pal Élisabeth to see if she will release digital files of her portraits so she can use them for visuals on the site she will design to promote herself. She learns how important it is to have a dedicated site to accompany a Kickstarter campaign when she reads a post Thomas Murray put up about his experience in successfully funding his own campaign. It was his first tip—create a separate product site for pre-orders and a flexible post-campaign presence—that got her attention.


Vigée Le Brun Marie Antoinette with a Rose 1783
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun’s portrait “Marie Antoinette with a Rose,” 1783, courtesy of Lynda and Stuart Resnick, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


As he explains: “A product site acts as a landing page for your campaign once it’s over and allows more creativity and flexibility with content. You can link to this site anywhere in your campaign. Interested backers can go to it to learn more about the product and to pre-order after the Kickstarter campaign ends. The links between the two sites will help your product site’s SEO.” May we just say that this last sentence is true only if visitors popping over from Kickstarter are staying long enough for Google to decide the user experience is good so she must create a fascinating site in order to provide an excellent UX.


Marie Antoinette and her Children by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
Marie-Antoinette and her Children by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.


His tip about how important a link back to a dedicated site is worth its weight in bold because once a Kickstarter campaign ends, it is impossible to edit the main page of a campaign. “Plan on posting a link to your product site before that happens,” he advises. This strategy led to a great number of pre-orders from the inventor’s product landing page.


Marie Antoinette with Hand Fan
Marie-Antoinette with a lovely hand fan, one of a courtier’s most beguiling accoutrements.


Marie-Antoinette reserves her domain, quickly growing restless because she isn’t hearing back from Élisabeth about the portraits. Just as she’s beginning to tap the pointy toe of her pretty little mule, the painter responds with, “Of course! I’ll Dropbox them to you today since the files are so large.” Excited that things are moving forward, Marie begins to make a list of posts she’ll build around the visuals. “Let’s see,” she ponders; “I think the first four should be 1) the difficulty in keeping still, 2) maintaining a pleasant expression when all you want to do is frown, 3) how to keep your children calm during a sitting, and 4) the art of accessorizing with accoutrements such as plumage and hand fans. I can use the video of Madonna’s MTV performance of Vogue for this last one; they do call it the Marie Antoinette performance, after all!”



As she runs the lacy edge of one of her favorite fans along her pouty lips, she thinks, I’ll freshen up my image by popping in a still of Kirsten Dunst from Sofia Coppola’s film! I just love how the director made me so sexy!


sexy marie antoinette with fan
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is super sexy, the hand-fan put to excellent use.


Once the words are flowing, she is surprised how much she enjoys the writing. She is just finishing the third post when she receives the notification that the folder created by Élisabeth has been shared. What an amazing friend! Marie thinks as she opens Dropbox on her laptop. Each image she downloads takes her along a powerfully poignant memory lane, some more palatable than others.


Detail Marie Antoinette Court Dress
Detail of “Marie Antoinette in Court Dress,” painted in 1778, was Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun’s first portrait of the queen, a painting sent to the monarch’s mother.


She grows quite pensive when she sees the lovely painting of herself in court dress. “Ah well, must not dwell on the past,” she thinks as she drops the large images into her Automator app to reduce the size so they don’t slow down her site load-times (as any SEO-savvy blogger would do).


Visuals Are Key for Satisfying UX
On-Site and on Kickstarter


Chalk Drawing Marie Antoinette
“La reine Marie Antoinette dans le parc de Versailles,” a 1780 black and white chalk drawing on grey-blue paper by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Image courtesy Batguano.


Marie-Antoinette knows she has an ace card in that she is already well known but she will have to work very hard to have painters take her seriously now that she has no leverage to help make them famous. She carefully considers the context of each portrait: the image titled “Marie Antoinette in Court Dress” will have the alt text “Queen Marie Antoinette in Court Dress painted in 1778”; the descriptive text must read “The painting ‘Marie Antoinette en grand habit de cour’ was painted in 1778 by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.” She must keep her important friend happy by giving her as much traction as she can, after all!


Marie Antoinette with a Rose
“Marie Antoinette with the Rose,” a 1783 painting by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun of the queen famous for the maxim “Let them eat cake!”


The visage of her titled “Marie Antoinette with a Rose” will have the alt text “Queen Marie Antoinette with a Rose, painted in 1783” and the descriptive text will be “Queen Marie Antoinette with a Rose, painted in 1783 by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun.”


Seated Marie Antoinette with a Rose
Seated Marie-Antoinette with a Rose.


I think I’m getting the hang of this, she thinks to herself as she makes her way through all of her official portraits. But as she does, she realizes how much she has missed all those conversations she had with Élisabeth while she was sitting for her. Suddenly, she knows a way to repay the painter: one of the things that had always rankled her friend is the fact that she was never to be recognized as a “history painter” during her lifetime. Only men were officially sanctioned to create mythological subjects and allegories like the one in the painting below, which she did create while she was alive but only unofficially.


The Mythic Portrait in Modern Times

Peace Bringing Back Abundance
“Peace Bringing Back Abundance,” a 1780 oil on canvas by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun housed in the Musée du Louvre. Image courtesy of the MET.


The beautiful composition proves she was certainly up to the task of competing with the male painters of her generation, and Marie-Antoinette thought it was a smooth move that she defied convention and infused her portraiture with mythological themes, such as in the paintings of Lady Hamilton like the one below, which had helped fuel the fad among exiled courtiers after the revolution. Marie had never been able to participate in the craze due to her royal status. But that no longer matters! she thinks as she decides to text her friend to ask if she will paint her as a mythic character so they can video the process for her Kickstarter campaign.


Emma Hamilton as Ariadne Vigee Le Brun
Lady Hamilton depicted as the mythological goddess Ariadne, painted by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Image courtesy WikiMedia.


“A video is a must for Kickstarter” she texts Élisabeth; “will you paint me as a mythic character so I can video the process?” Élisabeth replies “Of course!” and Marie-Antoinette’s already rosy cheeks glow even more resolutely in the afternoon light. She begins researching mythological characters she might want to impersonate when a text comes through from Élisabeth with the photo of a costume she’d just had made, one she had yet to decide who would don it to portray Atalanta, the swift-footed huntress. A thrill ran through Marie-Antoinette as she imagined herself disentangled from the layers and layers of fabrics, panniers and corsets, a move for which she had drawn so much criticism when she sat for Élisabeth’s portrait Marie Antoinette en chemise as queen. “I was just mortified when she had to withdraw it from the salon,” Marie-Antoinette said aloud; “poor Élisabeth no more—we can do as we please now!”


Marie Antoinette en chemise
This painting of Marie-Antoinette in a chemise caused an uproar at the Salon of 1786 so Vigée Le Brun withdrew it and replaced it with the same pose of the queen in court dress.


“I would love to be Atalanta,” Marie-Antoinette texts back.

“Done!” Élisabeth answers. “Let me know when you want to get started.”

Marie-Antoinette is psyched because she knows this will add a freshness to her standing that was lacking before, and she hopes it will improve her ability to rank in SERPs for her new life rather than her staid one of the past. She absolutely can’t wait until her new gains obliterate the phrase “Let them eat cake” when she’s Googling herself (and, as you can imagine, she does so quite often!). “Can you imagine how sick I am of seeing those words?”


Painting to Prove Scale
I photographed this in the MET to prove how large these paintings are, quite a feat for Vigée Le Brun to have accomplished.


Having done her research, Marie-Antoinette knows she must wait to publish her blog until she has all four posts ready because she mustn’t have fewer than three when she launches her new platform. This is because she can’t have orphaned or low-numbered tags and categories when she goes live because she wants her content to be well strategized. With a smug expression, she closes her laptop, stands up and says, “Watch this, Lady Hamilton!”

*A number of the images in this post are courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC from the exhibition Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France. I found a documentary in the Met gift shop, which is highlighted here, that I feel it is well worth watching if you haven’t seen it:



Text of Marie Antoinette Takes Kickstarter for a Spin © adroyt, all rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, the adroyt blog is written by adroyt’s CEO Saxon Henry. Our downloadable knowledgebase can be found at adroytLABS. You can find our collection of Whyte Papers on the LABS site, as well.

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