Heroic Deeds and Mystic Figures: A New Reading of Rubens' Life of Maria de' Medici

Heroic Deeds and Mystic Figures: A New Reading of Rubens' Life of Maria de' Medici

by Ronald Forsyth Millen, Robert Erich Wolf
     
 

No previous study of Rubens' pictorial biography of Maria de' Medici, Dowager Queen of France, has analyzed in such detail each of the twenty-four paintings with regard to iconography, the painter's source material, and his pictorial treatment. Not only is each episode seen here within its historical context, using documents from both Italian and French sources of

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Overview

No previous study of Rubens' pictorial biography of Maria de' Medici, Dowager Queen of France, has analyzed in such detail each of the twenty-four paintings with regard to iconography, the painter's source material, and his pictorial treatment. Not only is each episode seen here within its historical context, using documents from both Italian and French sources of the time, many never before adduced in connection with the paintings, but for the first time an iconographical element is studied which heretofore has been glimpsed only in passing: the symbolical and allegorical emblems connected with coins, medals, broadsheets, public ceremonies, and political propaganda. Rubens, this book argues, incorporated those cryptic images into his compositions with full awareness of their political and personal implications and did so, it seems, at the insistence of the patroness and her advisers. These and other "mystic figures" offer a hitherto unsuspected key to the cycle's "secret" meanings. The theme now appears to be not reconciliation, as usually stated, but a vindication of the former Florentine princess's policies as queen, regent, and dowager. With this goes an accusation of filial ingratitude and political ineptness directed against King Louis XIII, and there is an implicit--painted--threat to reopen armed hostilities should the uneasy truce between mother and son ever be broken. Reason enough then, to dissemble, conceal, or explain away the true meaning of the cycle when the paintings were new.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691040653
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/21/1989
Pages:
334
Product dimensions:
8.84(w) x 11.32(h) x 1.44(d)

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