Following on from last week’s post, Anne and Marie were far from being the only French queens to wear blue fleur de lys dresses (which may or may not have incorporated at least part of the same garments)
Margaret of Valois, the first wife of Henry IV of France (Marie de Medici was his second), was one:
And two generations before her, Claude of France, the mother in law of the infamous Catherine de Medici, was painted in a fleur de lys cloak. It is unclear, however, if the painting was commissioned during her life, or during Catherine de Medici’s, so the cloak may not be historical.
Skipping forward in time, Anne’s daughter in law, Marie Therese of France, was painted in a dress with a modified fluer de lys bodice (possibly the same, or at least partly the same, as the dress worn by Anne in 1646). In contrast to the rivalry shown in Anne and Marie de Medici’s portraits, Marie -Therese’s painting is probably meant to honour her mother in law, with whom she had a close and loving relationship.
Marie-Therese’s first daughter in law, Duchesse Maria Anne Victoria of Bavaria, died in 1690 and did not live to be Queen of France, but a posthumous portrait shows her in the fleur de lys and ermine robes of French royalty:
Her daughter in law, Marie Adelaide de Savoie, in her turn, also died before becoming Queen. She was, at least, painted before her death.
Marie AdelaÃ¯de’s first two sons died in childhood, so her third son became Louis XV of France, and his wife Marie LeszczyÅ„ska was to be France’s longest serving royal consort. This gave her plenty of time to have her portrait done, frequently in the fleur de lys and ermine robes.
Two of the earliest portraits are the most interesting though. In 1726 she was painted in the full fleur de lys gown and robes to commemorate her marriage:
A few years later, she was portrayed in a painting that made a much subtler, more allegorical link to her status. Rather than being draped in fleur de lys, she wears blue and carries a spray of lilies, the flower the emblem originated from, which also symbolised French nationality and (through their link to the annunciation and the Virgin Mary) feminine virtues.
What a lovely way to make a point about national pride and virtue, without going over the top?
With ‘in your face’ and subtle out of the way, Marie L went on to be painted in fleur de lys a further eight times (that makes 11 portraits celebrating her status in total!).
Marie LeszczyÅ„ska also had a daughter in law portrait, though of a much nicer nature than Marie and Anne’s a century and a quarter before.
More on Maria Josepha and the last of the French queens in a few days.