Louis the XIVth and Madame de La Vallière enlightened by Love, Paris, early XVIIIth century
Monumental oil on canvas depicting King Louis the XIVth and the Duchess de La Vallière sitting in the heavens, on a cloud.
The king, richly dressed in a purple velvet coat lined with gold satin, is represented as Jupiter, leaning on his commanding staff and accompanied by an eagle clutching a thunderbolt.
The Duchess de la Vallière is richly dressed in a satin dress embroidered with silver, and a blue velvet cape. She is represented as Juno, with her scepter and a peacock in the background.
Above them, an allegory of Love crowned with flowers illuminates the couple with the flaming torch of Cupid.
Very good condition; original canvas (six canvases sewn together) and frame.
Gilded wood frame of the Regency period.
French school from the first third of the XVIIIth century.
Frame: height: 150 cm; width: 180 cm.
Canvas: height: 134 cm; width: 164cm.
The monumental canvas we present depicts the Sun King and Françoise-Louise de La Baume Le Blanc, who was the royal mistress from 1661 to 1667. Our work dates from the very beginning of the XVIIIth century because such a work can only be understood after the death of Queen Marie-Thérèse, and the legitimization of the king's extra-marital relationship.
Our hypothesis is reinforced by several elements, notably the fact that the king is represented as elderly, according to the iconography of Rigaud's portrait from 1701, whereas the Duchess de La Vallière is represented in the flower of her youth, at the age when she was the king's mistress. The painting was probably done after the death of the Duchess de La Vallière in 1710. Indeed, after 36 years of religious life, she died in the cemetery of her convent with "all the marks of a great holiness" as Saint-Simon wrote. He even added: "Happy [the king] if he only had had mistresses like Madame de La Vallière". This rehabilitation goes hand in hand with the rise of the king's favorite daughter, Marie-Anne de Bourbon, who was legitimized and married to a prince of blood, Louis-Armand I of Bourbon-Conti. Who else but the Princess of Conti could have allowed herself to present a monumental painting illustrating the king's infidelity? It is highly probable that the Princess of Conti, who never ceased to rehabilitate her mother, commissioned our painting for one of the many properties she owned (Château de La Vallière, Montmirail, Champs-sur-Marne, Choisy, Hôtel de Vendôme, Hôtel de Lorge, etc).
The vivid polychromy and luminous texture of the textiles are similar to the works of François de Troy (1645-1730) who worked extensively for the Bourbon-Conti family.
Atypical by its subject and its size, the canvas that we present is particularly decorative, while being a museum piece.