Simon Vouet

Allegorical Portrait of Anna of Austria as Minerva

Allegorical Portrait of Anna of Austria as Minerva
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Author: Simon Vouet
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 202x172 cm
Origin: France, After 1643

Vouet was a royal artist who founded a new trend which was to dominate French art for nearly half a century. He sought to create majestic ceremonial works, as in this image of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom, protector of peace and patroness of the arts and sciences - in fact a portrait of the French queen, Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII and Regent to the young Louis XIV. Attributes of the goddess Minerva serve to emphasise the allegorical message of the painting - the metallic waistband with the mask of the Medusa, the shield and helmet - while the owl is a symbol of wisdom and the Latin inscription - "Nullum numen abest" - reads "In her is all divine power" .

The painting is a reminder of events which took place in 1643: according to the will and testament of Louis XIII the powers of Anne, regent during the infancy of Louis XIV, were limited by a Council, but with the aid of Cardinal Mazarin she broke these bonds to gain full power. The composition is monumental and effective, the large forms and bright colours emphasising the decorative nature of the painting, intended to adorn a palace interior.

Personage: Anne of Austria, Queen of France
Style: Classicism
Source of entry: All-Union Society Antikvariat, 1931
Theme: Allegory
Exibition: French Art: 15th - 18th centuries

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