Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mercredi: The Art of Beauty

This gorgeous portrait, which I came across over at A Harlot's Progress, is of Gabrielle d'Estrees by Roman artist Lavinia Fontana. The portrait is most often dated 1599, which was the year then twenty eight year old Gabrielle died in April.

Gabrielle was the mistress of King Henri IV of France and her beauty was legendary. Her untimely death threw Henri into a funk that lasted the rest of his life. She is the subject of this scandalous and possibly posthumous double portrait, said to depict she (on the right) and her sister. In the painting, Gabrielle is holding Henri's coronation ring, which he gifted her in place of an engagement band.

Lavinia was born in Bologna but lived most of her life in Rome. She was famous in her own right, to some degree simply because of her gender. The Tudor Era on tumblr also attributes this stunning painting to Fontana.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful blog!

Timmy! said...

I am curious (but too lazy to research) as to what caused her to die so young, Pauline. Do you know?

Pauline said...

Anon: thank you so much; I very much appreciate you taking the time to leave your comments. Please do come again.

Timmy!: Anyone who watches competition shows on TV might say the Duchess was her own undoing. While she was pregnant with her fourth child by Henri, he was in the process of having his marriage annulled so that he could marry Gabrielle. She is said to have commented that "nothing could stand in the way of her good fortune" just before being brought to bed of a still-born son. She suffered from eclampsia followed by a raging fever,and died before Henri could reach her side.

Timmy! said...

Wow, talk about bad karma... Thanks for the extra info, Pauline!