Musée No:318.025
Musée No:318.025

Musée No:318.025

Regular price £25.00

La Duchessa 

Artist: Jacob Ferdinand Voet

Date:1670 - 1675

Jacob Ferdinand Voet (1639-1689) was a Flemish portrait painter. He had an international career that took him to Italy and France, where he made portraits for an elite clientele. Voet is regarded as one of the best and most fashionable portrait painters of the Late Baroque. He left his native Antwerp and travelled to Rome where he lived from 1663 to 1680. His skills as a portrait painter were much in demand at the Papal court, by the Roman aristocracy, by Christina, Queen of Sweden and by Englishmen and other Europeans visiting Rome on their Grand Tour. He created a series of 37 portraits of the most enchanting women of Rome, the 'Galleria delle Belle'. By 1680 he was banned from the city by Pope Innocent XI who was scandalized by the portraits of women with unseemly décolletés. Voet specialized in half-length portraits, in which all attention is concentrated on the subject, who emerges from a neutral, dark background. He seems to have an effortless accuracy and a fluid ease in his painting style. Between 1684 and 1686 he moved to Paris, was appointed as court painter and became portrait painter to political and military personalities.

This truly beautiful subject is Marie Anne Mancini, Duchesse de Bouillon (1649 – 1714). She was an Italian-French aristocrat and cultural patron, the youngest of the five famously beautiful and successful Mancini sisters, who were known at the court of King Louis XIV of France as the Mazarinettes, because their uncle was the king's chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin. She is best known for her involvement in the famous Poison Affair, and as the patron of La Fontaine, the author of the famous Fables that French school children are still made to learn off by heart. Her father was a Roman baron, necromancer and astrologer. Her husband, Godefroy Maurice de La Tour d'Auvergne, the Duc de Bouillon, (love these names!) loved her and was tolerant of her love affairs, and refused to follow the wish of his family and have her incarcerated in a convent for adultery. They had 8 children. However, she was socially and politically compromised in the notorious Affaire des Poisons, allegedly for planning to poison her husband in order to marry her nephew Louis Joseph, Duc de Vendôme. The trial against her was conducted in January 1680, and she appeared escorted by her husband and her lover Vendôme, one on each side, and stated that she did not accept the authority of the court and had accepted to answer the court summon only out of respect for the king's rank. She was never formally convicted. She was greatly admired within the aristocracy because of her wit and lack of fear during her trial, but. she was exiled to the provinces by the king.

Voet painted her again, a few times, for example as St Catherine of Alexandria, and as Cleopatra, which was, for want of a better word, a slightly saucier version.

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