Thursday, 26 April 2012

Peter Paul Rubens and Marie de' Medici

The Coronation in Saint-Denis

Peter Paul Rubens was one of the most successful artists of the seventeenth century and counted monarchs, statesmen and church leaders among his clients, one of the most lucrative being Marie de’ Medici, the second wife of Henry IV of France. 

Rubens had attended Marie's marriage to Henry in 1600, a grand event that took place in her home town of Florence, although one important party  had been missing from the celebrations, the groom himself, who sent a proxy in his place, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Now twenty-two years on Marie wanted to commission a series of paintings to illustrate her life, and the artist she chose for the work was Rubens.

The canvases which the artist was to produce numbered twenty-four in all, of which three were portraits of Marie and her family, and were to adorn the new residence of Luxembourg Palace that she was having built in Paris. They were intended to bequeath to posterity an account of her life. One of the paintings, The Coronation in Saint-Denis, was a depiction of the coronation she insisted upon to celebrate her position as Queen of France, and shows the moment that the crown is placed upon her head, with her son and daughter on either side of her, and the King looking down from a balcony.

Among the other canvases in the series was The Education of Marie de' Medici, in which the young Marie is seen receiving instruction in reading, music and eloquence; The Arrival of Marie de' Medici at Marseilles, where Neptune and an assembly of mythological sea creatures escort Marie's ship into the harbour; and Henry IV Receiving the Portrait of Marie de' Medici, where we see emissaries of Juno, the Goddess of Marriage, showing to the King a portrait of Marie, his future bride.

Henry IV Receiving the Portrait of Marie de' Medici

The paintings were completed c. 1622-25 and are now in the possession of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

1 comment:

  1. Marie de Medici was a beautiful woman but even queens may have trouble with weight