In 1621 Marie de’Medici commissioned Peter Paul Rubens to complete a series of paintings celebrating her life for Luxembourg Palace, known as the Medici cycle. Although scholars have recognized the significance of many of the narratives in this cycle, they typically overlook Rubens’s The Queen Triumphant. When the series was first moved to the Louvre, the portrait was not included with the other works at all. This was a mistake, as the portrait is far too important to be overlooked and is actually the most important painting in the cycle.
This portrait is the culmination of what Marie was trying to express in the rest of the Medici cycle. With it she ties together the themes portrayed at length in the cycle and presents herself as the Roman goddess Minerva, the Virgin Mary, and the figure of Authority in an attempt to justify and legitimize her position. As the queen triumphant, Marie challenges typical assumptions about the role of royal women and asserts the divine right of a queen.
Amanda Salley, ’03 Centerville, IA
Sponsor: Christina McOmber