Cycle of the Life of Marie de' Medici, Rubens

Cycle of the Life of Marie de' Medici, Rubens
Cycle of the Life of Marie de' Medici, Rubens

Over the years many artists have been recognized for the quality of their paintings and the importance of the commissions made, but few artists have carried out commissions as important and outstanding as the one that the artist Rubens he made for the queen regent of France, Maria de' Medici. Painting cycles like the one we are analyzing here were common at the time when it came to decorating new palatial constructions for monarchs or nobles. When they needed a good number of canvases to adorn their walls.

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Pedro Pablo Rubens (1577 – 1640) is one of the most outstanding figures of Baroque aesthetics in Flanders. The artist was born into a we althy family that guaranteed him a careful education, from a very young age he entered the workshop of some local painters from whom he could hardly learn anything; his artistic ability often quickly surpassed that of his teachers. Perhaps more relevant to his training than his studies in Antwerp was the artist's trip to Italy, where he was able to study the great Renaissance painters such as Michelangelo or Titian and see first-hand the advances in Caravaggio's tenebrist aesthetic.

The artist's works were recognized for the elegance and dynamism of his compositions, the voluminous figures and the striking colors, perhaps for this reason the artist was one of the most famous paintersand recognized in his time. He carried out commissions both in Italy and in Antwerp or Spain. During the first half of the 17th century, around the year 1621, the artist carried out an important pictorial cycle – actually there were two commissions with two pictorial cycles, but some experts consider them to be one since their theme always revolves around the monarch. for Marie de' Medici (1575 – 1642). The works painted by Rubens were destined to decorate the first floor of the Luxembourg Palace and in total could be counted at less than twenty-one different canvases with allegorical themes and three portraits of the queen together with her parents.With this great cycle of works, the regent monarch -Mary occupied the throne of France since the death of her husband Henry V since her son was only nine years old- tried to strengthen her power in the face of increasingly pretentious positions of power by Louis XIII himself.

The iconographic program of the entire series was carried out by the abbot of Saint-Ambroise, although we must point out that the regent herself and the artist also participated in its execution, in addition of the well-known Cardinal Riquelieu. And while it is true that the artist moved to France to make the sketches for the canvases, the paintings themselves were made by Rubens's own workshop in Antwerp, otherwise it would have been completely impossible to finish in just one year, in 1625 the paintings were already hanging on the walls of the Luxembourg Palace, so many canvases.

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