chapter  5
26 Pages

The Three Marys: The Virgin; Marie de Médicis; and Henrietta Maria

ByJessica Bell

The French queen, Marie de Médicis (1573-1642), was a prolific patron of the arts and, consequently, the resultant literature on her participation in the seventeenthcentury art market has been abundant. Marie amassed an enormous painting collection which included works by some of the most pre-eminent contemporary local and international talent, but it is her patronage of Peter Paul Rubens that has generated the most discussion. Authors such as Jacques Thuillier and Jacques Foucart, Deborah Marrow, Susan Saward, Ronald Forsyth Millen and Robert Erich Wolf and more recently Geraldine A. Johnson have added much to the current understanding of Marie’s relationship with the Flemish painter which resulted in the twenty-four large-scale canvases depicting events from the French queen’s life which now hang in Salle 18 in the Louvre, but which originally decorated the western gallery of her personal residence: the Luxembourg Palace.1 Although these authors vary in their interpretations of specific signs and symbols, all note that Marie’s love of painting extended to a desire to use it to manipulate public perception and create an appropriate persona which highlighted her virtues.