Olga's Gallery

Peter Paul Rubens

Portrait of Marie de' Medici.

c.1622. Oil on canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Read Note.

Peter Paul Rubens. Portrait of Marie de'  Medici.

Maria de' Medici (1573-1642), Queen of France, was born into the family of Francesco de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1600 she became the second wife of Henry IV (Henry of Navarre) of France, after his assassination in 1610 she became regent for her son Louis XIII. Because of constant intrigues she was exiled by her son in 1617, they reconciled in 1622, however when she again started plots against the king's minister, Cardinal Richelieu, Louis exiled her once more. Her daughter Henrietta Maria married Charles I of England.

In 1621, Marie de' Medici gave Peter Paul Rubens his largest commission: a series of 21 paintings describing Marie's life, and intended for her palace in Paris. It was not an easy task. The queen was far from being a beauty, and far from being a saint: she had constantly quarreled with her deceased husband, Henry IV, wasted enormous sums of money, and bothered her son, Louis XIII, with constant advice so that at last he ordered her out of Paris. Rubens’s diplomatic skills were much in evidence during the fulfilment of the order. He successfully managed it within three years to the great satisfaction of the customer.

The series includes:
The Destiny of Marie de' Medici.
The Birth of Marie de' Medici.
Marie's Education.
Henry IV Receives the Portrait.
The Marriage.
The Landing at Marseilles.
The Meeting at Lyons.
The Birth of Louis XIII.
Institution of the Regency.
Coronation of Marie de' Medici.
Apotheosis of Henry IV.
The Council of the Gods.
The Capture of Juliers.
The Exchange of Princesses.
The Happiness of the Regency.
The Majority of Louis XIII.
The Flight from Blois.
The Treaty of Angoulême.
The Peace of Angers.
The Queen's Reconciliation with Her Son.
The Triumph of Truth