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Rubens’ Medici cycle : justification for a heroine Queen

Tania Solweig Shamy

Shamy, Tania Solweig, Rubens’ Medici cycle : justification for a heroine Queen, thèse d’histoire de l’art, Université McGill, 2000

Résumé de la thèse

In 1622 Maria de Medici commissioned two series of twenty four paintings for the galleries in her new home in the Palais du Luxembourg from the renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens. The Henri cycle was to illustrate the "triumphs" of her late husband the King, and the Maria cycle was to illustrate the Queen’s "illustrious life and heroic deeds". This thesis proposes that the Maria de Medici cycle cannot be disassociated from the Henri IV cycle because the Queen’s intention was to present her reign as a continuation of his and to prove that she was equally capable to rule the French nation. Chosen by Henri as his successor, Maria overcame obstacles that originated in his reign and that jeopardised the throne for her son and the Bourbon line. Although the Henri IV cycle was never completed, the paintings and sketches that exist make it possible to link the two galleries by the pivotal event of marriage. The Maria cycle addresses and resolves issues stemming from this union. The repetition of specific images and themes in the two cycles represents Maria’s unique qualifications and reinforces the equality of the two sovereigns. Maria completed the mandate that Henri authorised her to carry out, ensuring peace at home and in Europe, thus justifying her designation as a heroine Queen.

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