The Princess of Lamballe. Jean-Baptiste Charpentier the Elder (French, 1728-1806). Oil on canvas.

Princess Maria Teresa of Savoy-Carignan (Marie Thérèse) (1749-1792) was married at the age of 17 to Louis Alexandre de Bourbon-Penthièvre, Prince de Lamballe, the heir to the greatest fortune in France. After her marriage, which lasted a year, she went to court and became the confidante of Queen Marie Antoinette. She was killed in the massacres of September 1792 during the French Revolution.

[Above: Marie Antoinette and Princess Lamballe at Trianon]

“[Princess] Lamballe, wrote Sir Francis Montefiore in his lachrymose 1896 life of the princess, Marie Antoinette was so anguished by her companion’s absence from the course she had her portrait painted “on the looking glass of the room she most frequented.” On another occasion, in 1791, after the queen and Louis XVI had made their unsuccessful flight from Paris and had been recaptured at Varennes, she sent the princess a ring, set with a lock of her now-whitened hair and with the pathetic words “bleached by horror” engraved upon it. The melancholy Lamballe in turn sent the queen a repeater-watch (“to remind her of the hours we have passed together”) and expressed the gallant wish to “live or die” near her. Among the last possessions taken from Marie Antoinette on the day of her final removal to the Conciergerie, it was poignantly noted, had been a tear-stained miniature of the princesse de Lamballe.

–Terry Castle, The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (pg 138).