Queens in the Art and Political Imaginary of Early Modern France
In early modern Europe, despite the deeply ingrained distrust of women as rulers, queens began to gain political authority that was increasingly made visible in the art and architecture of royal residences. While Queen Elizabeth I had famously reigned for decades in England, in France during this era queens were denied participation in the royal succession and the right to reign directly. Notwithstanding this apparent constraint, French queens came to occupy an important place in French governance, one promoted greatly by Henri IV for his consort Marie de’ Medici, inflected by Elizabeth I’s example, and disseminated through the arts. French royal imagery in portraits, gardens, and galleries subsequently portrayed the novel notion of the king and queen as complementary partners, thereby depicting, for a time, a new ideal of monarchy.
Nicola Courtright teaches at Amherst College, where she is William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art. Former Editor-in-Chief of Grove Art Online, she now serves on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies. This year she is a featured speaker in the Visiting Scholar Program of the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Generous support provided by Phi Beta Kappa’s Visiting Scholar Program and the Art Department.