When a monarch (and his consort) rose to power, one of the best things to do to assert their awesome ability to rule a country was to paint them in all their glory. These fantastic paintings, known as state portraits, differ from other 18th century portraits because they expressed a political ideal of an all-powerful being. Decked out on in coronation robes, the full-length monarch holds their royal regalia in a timeless setting that displays their wealth. The portraits were meant to generate awe, and when you see them in person, your mouth does kind of hang open.
Of course I love comparing the English aesthetic to the French. King George and Queen Charlotte had no choice but to allow Joshua Reynolds to do their portraits since he was the head of the Royal Academy. They much preferred Gainsborough (who painted many portraits of them and their family) because of his personal views and style of painting; but decorum deemed they had to have Reynolds paint them. The result is a rather dark portrait duo. In Reynold's brown hues the two monarchs are seated at their thrones, looking as if they are being crushed by their heavy uniforms of state.
Now here comes those young kids who are ruling France! Judging by Louis' portrait you would never know the deathly shy, naive, scared little boy that is contained under the gold fleur de lys. He stands in his finery, a true descendant of the Sun King. His crown does not lay on his head but is on a pillow in the background as a reminder that yes, this is your king. Marie's portrait is quite interesting. While it compliments her husband's, it also is a testament to her purpose as France's consort: a union with Austria. While she is also decked out in France colours, flowers, and symbols she still shows a bit of her Austrian roots which she had to give up upon her marriage. On the table beside her sits a pillow with both a Hapsburg rose and the French lily, showing the uniting of countries. It is the only small hint at her true orgins. Meanwhile, those French lilies are popping out everywhere! Fresh lilies are placed in the folds of her grand corps gown, asserting her devotion to France, as well as making her smell really good while she was sweating during the painting of the portrait!