The alleged portrait of Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse, in widow's dress after the death of her first husband, the Duke of Luynes in 1621.
Our work depicts the Duchess, sitting, turned in three-quarters, with her head turned towards the viewer, her peaceful face sketching a half smile.
She is wearing her hair in the 1620s fashion, blond hair curles, combed, gathered in a floating bun in the back. In spite of the sobriety of the costume, a row of pearls joined by a red ribbon adorns her hairstyle. She wears around her neck a very large white lace ruff, which surrounds her head and highlights the delicacy of her skin and her fresh complexion. She is dressed in a white blouse, and over it a black silk dress with puffed and intercut sleevesd, her tight waist contrasting with the amplitude of the lace ruff. The notch of her dress is adorned with an elegant and sober black silk bow, no doubt due to her mourning.
With a powerful light, our painting deploys a reduced palette dominated by the white of the ruff and the black of the dress, thus creating strong contrasts and shade areas. The red touches of the ribbon and lips of the model stand out intensely on this monochrome background.
Influence of Frans Pourbus is evident in this portrait sober by its palette, but rich by many details of the costume that give importance to the model standing out against a gray-green background. Nevertheless the rigidity of posture and the ostentatious character are softened by a delicacy and finess of typically French execution. This sensitivity without flattery of our artist makes the model more touching and alive.
Despite a relative lack of information on French portraitists from the beginning of the 17th century, we can get closer to Daniel Dumonstier, a French artist known above all for his works filled with a strong psychological realism.
French School, circa 1620, Circle of Daniel Dumonstier (1574-1646)
Oil on canvas, dimensions: h. 60 cm, l. 49 cm
Presented in Flemish style ebonized and moulded frame, dimensions with frame: h. 86 cm, l. 75 cm
Marie de Rohan, born in 1600, daughter of Hercule de Rohan, Duke of Montbazon and Madeleine Lenoncourt, is a woman of the French nobility famous for its great charm and its many political intrigues. Married in 1617 to the Duke Charles de Luynes, favorite of Louis XIII, she follows him with great efficiency. The following year, she was appointed superintendent of the House of Anne of Austria and head of her Council. She binds herself with the queen, of whom she becomes the inseparable friend. The semi-disgrace of Luynes, then his death in 1621, only led his widow to withdraw temporarily from the Court. Decided to restore her position, she remarried with her lover Claude of Lorraine in 1622 in Paris and returned to the court. Melee has many intrigues of the court, of which the non-exhaustive list: the Buckingham affair (1623-1624) which she instigated with her lover, the Count of Holland. the conspiracy of Chalais organized by his lover, the count of Chalais in 1626. negotiations with the duke of Lorraine and Spain led by his lover Charles de l'Aubespine, marquess of Chateauneuf in 1633. secret exchange of correspondence between Anne d ' Austria and Spain in 1637. the conspiracy of the Count of Soissons in 1641. the Cabal of the Important against Mazarin in 1643. Reputed fierce in its political plots, she is repeatedly dismissed from the Court but returns each time. After the death of Louis XIII, Anne of Austria ensures the regency with Mazarin and the Duchess of Chevreuse loses all power. She then took the side of the Fronde and, during the following years, intrigue to ensure the fortune of his family. In particular, she married her grandson, Charles de Luynes, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the most influential man of the time after Louis XIV. In 1679, at age 79, she retired to a convent in Gagny to die there far from her family.
Daniel Dumonstier was the most famous portraitist "with pencils" under Henri IV and Louis XIII, in the tradition of Clouet. All the noblest came to Paris to be portrayed by "the greatest painter of Europe". He left an exceptional iconographic testimony of the main actors of his time.