'Let them eat cake', Christopher Landoni

Dark black and grey patterned image

Enamel on formica and mahogany, 243 x 121.5 cm; 243 x 121.5 cm; 243 x 121.5 cm

Alongside the famous remark “let them eat cake” made by Marie-Antoinette to one of her advisers during a time of famine shortly before the French revolution, and her subsequent guillotining, lies another story which gives us further insight into her flippant character.

The story has it that she would commission artists to make paintings depicting happy and healthy-looking peasant families merrily working in the fields, dancing and playing musical instruments, eating lavish banquets and generally enjoying life in permanently sun-kissed landscapes. These paintings she would then have nailed to her carriage windows so that when she ventured out of Versailles she didn’t have to be confronted by the depressing truth but was able to carry on living in her dream world in which everybody, like herself, was having a wonderful time.

In this work, briefly, the flower arrangements in the foreground are a beautiful façade, analogous to the paintings commissioned by Marie-Antoinette. Beyond this, we are able to discern a narrative that is playing hide and seek, that we are never quite able to perceive in its entirety.


Christopher Landoni was born in Blackpool in 1972. He studied at Düsseldorf Kunstakademie 1998-99. Recent group exhibitions include Civilia Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool 2003, and East International Norwich 2003 (in which he won the EASTwork 2004 award); one-person exhibitions include the project Untitled Köln and Düsseldorf Kunstakademie 1999, Wunderland International 3 Manchester 2001, Coma Parkhaus Düsseldorf 2002 and Museum 52 London 2004.