When I posted this weeks rate the dress, I was aware that numerous French queens had been painted in dark blue dresses with fleur de lys patterns, and intended to do a whole post about the trend. Then the Lady of Portland House pointed out that the dresses in some of the paintings are very similar.
Too similar. In fact, I think they are the same dress.
Fascinatingly, it looks like Marie de Medici, the Mother in Law of Anne, may have been painted in the dress first:
And then Anne immediately seized on the idea, and had her own portrait done in the dress, only she got Rubens to do it, so it looked better than Maria’s version (what a way to up your mother in law!).
Maria got her revenge in two ways.
First, she commissioning Rubens to do an entire series celebrating her life, struggles and triumphs, including a coronation scene with her wearing the dress, painted at the same time as Anne’s portrait.
And second, she commissioned a (very flattering and improbably youthful) near replica of Anne’s portrait done for herself.
Despite Marie’s final fall out with her son, and banishment from France in 1631, Anne had to wait until after Marie’s death in 1642 to the last say. She had herself painted in the dress for a final time in a pose that managed to celebrate her nationalism, her piety, her status, and her children, all in one go.
What a tale of rivalry and one-upmanship!
Next week: more Queens of France