ed. by Chantal Grell (Paris: Perrin,
Centro d'Estudios Europa Hispania,
Centre de Recherche du château de Versailles, n.d.), pp. 445
Reviewed in December 2009
A magnificent folio volume as royal in its presentation as its subject, Anne of Austria. The number and variety of illustrations makes this book the worthy companion of Mazarin, les lettres et les arts, ed. by Isabelle de Conihout and Patrick Michel (Paris: Bibliothèque Mazarine, and Éditions Hayot, 2006), pp. 480. There is the same richness and originality of illustrations, the same attention to detail, and the originality of themes.
When opening Anne, one encounters the child princess in a full-page illustration of a portrait from the Jacobs Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art. The shimmer of silk brocade, embroidery, jewels, grand lace collar, and an adult-size cross (worthy of a bishop!) might engulf an ordinary child, but as Anne gazes out at the viewer with wide-eyed intensity, we infer that she is wearing her clothes, and not the other way around. The next illustration is a full-page portrait of the adolescent Louis XIII, in crimson and gold, wearing a sword and the cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit. The first dance step of the young king's body, captured by the artist, would have a long life in royal portraiture, at least down to the Louis XIV by Rigault.
And the next full-page illustration (Juste D'Egmont) depicts Anne and Louis, the king offering crown, scepter, and hand of justice, and the queen holding a precious open cassette. Both kneel before the Infant Jesus and his mother at the manger. The king's visage is haggard and deathly; Anne's is perhaps vague and dutiful.
The next full-page illustration shows Anne's signature on a royal-blue background. As we turn the page, we find an enlarged playing card, the queen of hearts (sic!) from the Desmarest de Saint-Sorlin set of cards created to teach French royal history to Louis XIV! What a splendid way to introduce the reader to this volume. Tempting as it is to continue the inventory of remarkable illustrations, we must turn to the texts; but before doing so, it is interesting to note that nowhere is the person (or persons) who researched the 33 museums and libraries (and 19 RMN's, whatever they are) mentioned, and therefore cannot be complimented.
After a brief Introduction by the editor, Chantal Grell, professor of History at the University of the Yvelines/Saint-Quentin, there is a three-page excerpt about Anne in 1658, from the Mémoires of Madame de Motteville. Usually only read as a source, these pages reveal an accomplished writer whose name belongs in the pantheon of seventeenth-century writers, beside Scudéry, Lafayette, Retz, and Sévigné. As is her duty, Motteville is favorable to Anne, through a series of balanced remarks about Anne's piety and her acceptance of galanterie at court. She portrays Anne as a wit and a card-playing gambler who is not compulsive about winning. When younger, Anne had taken the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugénia as her model in courtly living. Motteville's portrait sets the tone for the pursuit of a sympathetic familiarity with the queen on the part of the reader. I will be stressing here what we learn about Anne.
Maria Jose Del Rio Baredo's chapter on Anne's childhood and education brings much new information, since almost nothing about her early life is found in Dulong, Kleinman, and Bertière, her principal biographers. As early as the age of three, this eldest daughter of the king of Spain was sumptuously dressed, traveling with her parents, processing in town festivals, and attending religious ceremonies. As godmother to her brother, she participated in numerous festive ceremonies, which suggests that the Ariès thesis about early-modern childhood remains suggestive not only about children from the lower orders, but about royals as well. Her portraits no doubt confirm what her subjects wished to see: a poised, majesty-filled young princess. Almost invariably she is depicted as wearing a cross of a size appropriate for a prelate. Surely the Spanish goldsmiths knew how to make small crosses for children; but no, these very large crosses suggest a reluctance to perceive Anne as a child. Such crosses may have been thought to give special protection, or may have been inherited or perhaps received as a gift from a godparent. Del Rio Barredo draws on the recent work of M.K. Hoffman-Strock and M. Sanchez on the exemplary lives, or models, proposed by women to women, and their articulation in educational treatises. Anne's education centered on religious practices and beliefs, not on theology or philosophy. She no doubt learned the enormously complex and rich landscape of the religious orders, their particular saints, their holy places, their hierarchies and their habits. Though equestrian portraits were a fashion at the Spanish court, it is not clear that Anne ever learned to ride a spirited steed as a mature person.
Rivalries at the highest levels of government and the court led to shifts in young Anne's household, certainly an education for the future as important as the devotional lessons she received from Diego de Guzmán. Del Rio Barredo discerns a congruence between the treatises on education available at the time, and what Anne was actually taught. Guzmán had an eye for artworks, thus it is possible that he gave lessons about mythology as well as about the lives of the saints. He noted the precise date, April 20, 1609, when Anne first danced at a court function. She lived surrounded not only by art and artists, but by music and musicians, writers and men of science. And collector of relics she would be, like her future mother-in-law, which implies love of the jewelers' and goldsmiths' art. Anne's childhood is now so much more well-known than those of her future sisters-in-law!
In just a few pages, albeit in 6-point type, Jean-François Dubost narrates and analyzes Anne's political role from the time of her arrival in France in 1616 to her death in 1666. His recent, very lengthy study of Marie de Médicis has facilitated his task, permitting comparisons not only between the two regencies but also between the fates, first, of a Florentine in a foreign society, and then of a Spaniard. Dubost is working out a new type of political history that eschews psychological perspectives (their place is in biography?) and moral judgments. Thus we find neither a pastiche of what Saint-Simon wrote about the first three Bourbons, nor a Plutarchian study of parallels à la Saint-Evremond, nor a salon game of portrait-writing, as studied by J. Plantié. This is an understandable response to the anachronistic, flowery rubbish about character that peppered 19th- and early-20th-century French historical literature. It was particularly silly, condescending, and abusive about women, and Marie and Anne were victimized by it.
This said, there developed in the later seventeenth century (one immediately thinks of Retz) a vaguely Tacitean-inspired approach to characterizing individuals: their cunning, their intelligence, was studied, as was their understanding or use of power; and/or they were studied as to whether they succeeded in doing what they set out to do. An example of this outlook is evident when Retz writes of Pierre Broussel that he "était vieilli entre les sacs, dans la poudre de la Grand'chambre, avec plus de réputation d'intégrité que de capacité." A binary casuistry could open the way to moral skepticism. Chéruel a historian who objects to Mazarin but recognizes his success in remaining in power while Retz, Châteauneuf, Chavigny, et al. in the end lose power developed this into a kind of political-historiographic grid with which to evaluate a reign or a career. Chéruel is fascinated by Anne's more mature politics, even as he notes her "mistakes," especially when Mazarin is not around. There is such a thing as skill and savoir faire in politics. Marie's inability to accept defeat reminds one of so many other defeated politicians, beginning with Chevreuse and Châteauneuf, who simply could not give up. That Dubost does not ruminate about intelligence in politics de-humanizes his narrative. This is not so much a criticism as an observation. His chapter is a tour de force on the fundamental features of the period. He has so many things just right, that the nuances that come to mind do not merit consideration here.
But while the evaluative grid based on intelligence is not here, there are occasional observations about persons being more or less intelligent. One example will suffice. On page 66, Dubost has Denis Bouthillier and his son, Chavigny, disgraced in the brief period of confusion after Louis XIII's death and prior to Mazarin's consolidation of power. It is true that Denis Bouthillier did in fact lose some of his major offices, but Chavigny did not. Dubost characterizes the latter man as "brilliant."
Over the next few years, Chavigny would maneuver between Gaston, Condé, and others, while Mazarin watched and waited for him to make a slip. In the days after the victory at Lens (August 1648), Chavigny would argue for a coup d'autorité against the Parlement. A convenient source for what follows is Retz's Mémoires. The coadjutor remarks that he had met Chavigny and that the option of using force for example, arresting recalcitrant trésoriers de France and judges such as Broussel was in the air.
The decision to arrest Broussel and Blancmesnil would be what set off the Day of the Barricades, a moment of confusion and not a little fear on the part of most in the government. Just days after the dust had settled, Chavigny was disgraced. It would be going too far to say that Mazarin had let Chavigny's advice on the Council prevail, knowing that the consequences might lead to disgrace; but it is possible. What frustrated Mazarin's enemies was his unerring (almost!) intelligence regarding the intense, almost intimate dynamics among a handful of men and a woman in power. His biggest failure would be, of course, his inability to work out relations with Condé to their mutual satisfaction. They had been close friends, but .... (See G. Dethan, Mazarin et ses amis). Here Richelieu's achievement with the prince's father helps measure Mazarin's fault. And Chavigny frequently failed to manage Gaston, his principal duty in the 1630s. Chavigny may well have been intelligent, but he did not know when he was out of his depth. The word "manage" comes from some of the glorious historiography about British politics under the Tudors and the Stuarts. It is a pity that some of Sir Geoffrey Elton's work has never been translated into French.
Dubost's chapter is at just the right level of analysis and factual narrative for this volume, and since he co-authored the next chapter on the political consequences of foreigners in the French government and court under Anne, there is no repetition.
While the foreign presence has often been noted, it is explored here in a pioneering way, under the heading xenophobia and cultural stereotypes. Having Florentines and bankers and hangers-on from Lucca during the Regency of Marie de Médicis had set the stage for the tragedy that was Concini's murder (carried out at the express order of the king). The outburst of anti-Italian pamphlets studied by J. Sawyer and H. Puccini lays the precise groundwork for exploring outbursts of anti-foreign furor, as H. Carrier's work does for all the vituperation against Particelli, Anne, and Mazarin during the Fronde.
Louis would personally order members of his wife's household to return to Spain. For the many decades of life ahead of her, she would have only three or four of her most intimate Spanish ladies-in-waiting. The total lack of trust in his wife would periodically lead to terrible inquiries about letters she had written to her brothers, to the king of Spain, and to the Cardinal Infante. Phrases in these letters about a "hope" and a "prayer" for peace would be pounced on as evidence of her disloyalty to France. There was a small crowd of great nobles and their hangers-on who would be anything but loyal to France, while in fact Anne toed a fine and loyal line. The encounter with Buckingham would be entirely blown out of proportion.
Despite Anne's earlier opposition to Richelieu, after the birth of her children she secretly and successfully worked out some understandings with him. The point is only important here because it reveals a continuity in her actions. After Louis XIII's death, she first turned to Potier, bishop of Beauvais, to play a role as advisor that had earlier been envisioned for Richelieu. Beauvais's obvious incompetence led Anne to turn to that naturalized foreigner whose parental origins in the kingdom of Naples had made the Mazzarinis subjects of her brother. And in addition, Mazarin had spent a couple of years in Spain!
The period of good will toward Anne did not last long, because the inevitable clashes between the Crown and the great nobles, the high taxes, and the fatigue of war would unleash attempts to find a scapegoat. Catherine de Médicis had been impaled by pamphleteers, as had Marie de Médicis and the Concinis. Then it was Anne and Mazarin's turn. The outburst of filth still defies understanding, yet it came from a well-educated, cultivated elite as does the filth produced against Marie-Antoinette nearly a century and a half later, as Barredo and Dubost point out.
In Mazarin's train arrived composers, engineers, painters (Romanelli), Theatine monks, and nieces whom he sought to marry far above their station. No mention is made of Mazarin's young nephew, Mancini, who was killed in the clash between Condé's and Turenne's troops at the Porte Saint-Antoine.
And as if the Italians did not provoke enough xenophobia, there were English refugees, including a queen, and a quite non-conforming Swedish queen, Christina, who demanded deference toward her, and liberty to act as she pleased, to the point of having her equerry executed at Fontainebleau without any review by French officials, just as if she were back in Sweden.
A nicer, gentler foreigner, Walter Montaigu, would become Anne's intimate, even as she and Mazarin strove first to protect physically and then to educate the boy king, Louis XIV.
There were other Italian clerics, German bankers, and military commanders for example, Abraham Fabert (just how "French" was Metz in 1599?) and mercenary troops, notably the Swiss, whose protection of the Palais-Royal while the Parisians were building barricades in late August 1648, played a capital role in Mazarin's survival.
Studies of patriotism so often turn on what might be referred to as positive cultural events, monuments, persons with whom subjects may identify. The other side of the coin is xenophobia, particularly the hated foreigner. This chapter illuminates the particularities and alas, the continuities in this xenophobia.
Mathieu de Vinha published a book on Louis XIV's valets de chambre in 2004. In the chapter on Anne's household he makes a very successful shift back to a different world in which a Spanish teenager becomes queen of France, with a household of 422 in 1617, only 354 in 1631, 701 in 1646, and 362 in 1665. The negotiations over the ranks and numbers coming from Spain had been lengthy, and Anne had barely arrived in her "adopted country" before her royal husband began to take exception to the clothes and numbers of Spanish servants he would order to return home. Despite Anne's very high sovereign rank, her overbearing mother-in-law from Florence insisted on precedence.
De Vinha reconstructs from memoirs the various "affairs," plots, and wild proposals that Anne survived as a very young woman living in a court that was anything but happy and relaxed. The king's suspiciousness, if not always downright hostility, opened the way for Anne to listen to hair-brained plans cooked up by Mme de Chevreuse and others whom she liked, year after year. I shall not go over these quite well-known aspects of Anne's reign, but it is important to note that de Vinha has gone just about as far, and as precisely as possible, on all these "affairs" and plots, and that it is desirable to have them in a single account that is well-grounded on the sources and free from speculation.
The pensions received by the various householders ranged from 8,000 livres down to a mere 10 livres, which suggests that the Monarchy knew very well how to take advantage of the prestige conferred by a royal appointment. Many only served for a quarter term, but did they receive lodging and board for the entire year? Total household expenditures varied between 81,000 lt in 1616 up to 89,000 in 1643, before declining to 80,000 in 1665.
Like E. Griselle before him, Mathieu de Vinha has transcribed and edited several lengthy household rosters, but he has not found a way to present this information in analytical prose, beyond a few general statistics, as noted above. Did minor shifts in the numbers holding this or that office result from the rise or decline of powerful clienteles that could claim privileges for reappointment or even increases in the number holding a specific office? Memoirs are invaluable for following appointments in royal household, but not as rich in detail as correspondence. While few of Anne's letters actually survive, there are many by Richelieu, Mazarin, and of course Louis XIII, whose oppressive management of Anne's household is a leit motif in this chapter. Did Mazarin seek to plant spies in her household? Italians certainly arrived with Mazarin's baggage, and one of them, Antonio Barberini, became her grand aumônier; but what about the minor offices, the ones that were too minor to give to the relatives of parlementaires? In Power and Reputation (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2008), p. 58, S. Kettering gives as 14 the total number of clients placed in Anne's household by Luynes. There were 18 in the king's and 9 in Gaston's, all appointments that no doubt Louis approved. From what seems at first to be mere affection, favoritism slipped into a way of governing.
Author of a book on the Cardinal de La Rochefoucault as a reformer, and of two magisterial volumes on the social, devotional, and administrative activities of all French bishops serving in the seventeenth century (need I mention his work on Richelieu's fortune?), Joseph Bergin explores Anne's relations with the dévots. His chapter has an air of definitiveness.
The theme is much more difficult to study than it would appear to non-specialists. After noting the difficulty in finding and interpreting the sometimes coded sources, Bergin characterizes the dévots as people who were intensely devout and not only sought to bring Tridentine reform to the French church, but who also generally sought to move the boundaries between Church and state, in favor of the former. Bergin notes that the dévots are not the same across the century, yet they always seem to be there, with agendas and, of course, candidates for high office in both Church and state.
As a devout young queen, Anne would have favored international peace; ideas about Spain's preponderant powers in Europe being a danger to France must have seemed strange to her, especially when French dévots accepted Spanish foreign policies because, for them, these policies were centered on peace-making and the repression of heresy. Some dévots placed enormous hope that she would favor Spanish interests. As French politics descended into plot after plot, Anne's letters to members of her family became suspect; and her aloof, very suspicious husband placed her in a virtual prison, unable to write to or visit someone of her choosing.
Like her Habsburg relatives, Anne took a social as well as a devotional interest in visiting fashionable convents, chiefly for women. Her mother-in-law, Marie de Médicis, had founded convents, but in fact she usually only gave "start-up" funding. Anne often continued her patronage of an institution for her lifetime. Unlike her favorite minister, Mazarin, Anne favored local French architects and artists, with magnificent results, notably at Val de Grâce. She did not commission Vouet to go down to the Escorial to paint portraits of her relatives, but she accepted their portraits from her family that were by Velasquez!
Bergin's approach to characterizing Saint Vincent de Paul's influence on Anne and her policies notes his appartenance to the Gondis. The turbulent Jean-François-Paul Gondi de Retz comes immediately to mind, of course not his uncle with the same name, archbishop of Paris, who, many would wrongly assume (among them Mazarin) possessed the power to curb the moral and political indiscretions of his nephew. To what degree was Vincent his own man on the conseil de conscience? His letters to Anne like those of Naudé to Mazarin and like Talon's great speech before Anne are those of a dévot with his ear to the ground: warnings about the possibility of still more intense popular uprisings as a result of food shortages and ever higher taxes. Anne certainly heard this message from Vincent, but there is no evidence that she pressed Mazarin to change course as a result. Similarly, Anne seemed never to perceive a danger in the rise and increasing strength of the Company of the Holy Sacrement. Again, Mazarin's own views became more emphatic as Jansenists changed from a clique to a party; his stated views would echo what Louis XIII and Richelieu had declared regarding the Huguenots in the 1620s: no state within the state.
Bergin remarks that dévots were not all the same, and this is, of course, correct. A vague, floating signifier, undergirded by intrigue, the socially conscious dévots always seem less strong than the moralists who chased the scandalous or what they thought to be scandalous or even the "withdrawn," such as the monks at La Trappe or the solitaires. As Mazarin lay dying, his confessor spoke up about his wealth, the poor, etc.; and all the cardinal would say was to ask him to speak about the state of his soul.
Barbara Gaehtgens begins by remarking that very little research and analysis has been done on Anne of Austria's portraits. She then offers a brilliant and convincing overview of the entire subject! There is a typology: 1) Anne the child queen, which ends with Rubens's great portrait of 1622; 2) Anne the proud mother, beginning in 1638; 3) Anne the regent, with the boy king, Louis XIV; 4) Anne the widow and alone; 5) Anne as a mythological woman. Gaehtgens is particularly acute on the iconographic dimensions of royal portraiture, especially the presence or absence of crowns, scepters, and fleurs-de-lis that emphatically express queenliness, a dignity, office, and rank with public duties and functions. Never an equal to her royal husband, Anne could and did serve as temporary regent when Louis XIII was on campaign in the provinces. Her principal duty, however, was to bear children, especially male children to perpetuate the Bourbon dynasty.
Her failure to produce an heir after 22 years of marriage resulted in Anne's being tacitly, and then overtly denigrated by her subjects; but this painful state of affairs would not be revealed in her portraits. The "family-state" compact elucidated by Sarah Hanley might be complemented by clarifying how the bride's status as a barren woman prompted humiliation and scorn in all families, be they peasants, merchants, or royals. Had Anne been educated to put religion at the center of her life, her status as a childless queen certainly strengthened her early experience; but she would never really withdraw from court life by going to live permanently in a convent.
In looking over the splendid reproductions of all the major portraits of Anne, there is not all that much religious symbolism in them (Rubens, Jean Morin after Champaigne, Beaubrun, the Guillain statue, and the Warin medal). She does not wear much religious jewelry as a widow.
Seen reproduced side by side, the Rubens portraits of Marie de Médicis and Anne (1622), the absence of any royal symbol in Marie's, while there is fleurs-de-lis drapery behind Anne in one painting and, in other portraits, columns or sculptures. This raises questions about whether or not, and to what extent, royal portraiture in France underwent influences similar to those in Spain. Sir John Elliott has discerned a tendency toward privatization in the Spanish court, as exemplified by the quite rapid and virtually complete disappearance of royal-religious symbolism in a lot of commissioned royal portraiture. Antonio Feros finds an Erasmian influence on the general bildung that led to increased interiorization, a process by which the royal person's virtues would be discerned more by subjects than by symbolically expressed religiously sanctioned authority (Velázquez, ed. S.L. Stratton-Pruitt, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, pp. 68-86; and J.H. Elliott, "The Court of the Spanish Habsburgs, a Peculiar Institution?," Spain and its World, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989, pp. 148-154).
I brought up this issue here because it is possible to wonder whether Anne's "control" of her own likeness and portrait in France remained perhaps influenced by what her parents were preferring in Spain. Just where Rubens's portraits, both in Madrid and Paris, might belong in these currents toward privatization and interiorization is entirely beyond my range; but Barbara Gaehtgens rightly asks whether Anne had "control" over her own likeness and image, thus it is of some interest to raise questions about possible surviving and simultaneous Spanish influences on Anne's portraits.
Juxtaposing the literary portraits by Motteville and Retz enables the reader to measure the range from the physical to the moral perspectives in such works, but it is Motteville's remark about Anne's hands being made to hold a scepter that brilliantly (and perhaps originally?) bring together the body and the royal symbol. After years of trying to ingratiate himself with Anne, and failing, Retz, in a series of binary oppositions, makes her the opposite of his imagined self!
Proceeding through the age cycle, Gaehtgens implicitly elucidates the constraints and probable personal initiatives in royal self-presentation. The Beaubrun painted circa 1650 would seem to me a work that is really quite personal, and about as revealing about autobiography as a painting can be. I value Gaehtgens's practice of warning the reader against the first impression, which prepares the reader perfectly for her description and engages toward a second look. The Beaubrun is quite large, and it seems to be very carefully executed. Whether it is shop work (more on this later) or a copy, the royal majesty and serenity conveyed in it implies that all the personal abuse and political turmoil she is going through has not left its mark. Wouldn't she have picked the dress, the pearls, and the cross? The last item is so laden with large tear-drop pearls that it is difficult to perceive it as sustaining devotions. This is rich, very expensive jewelry, with a little black mourning ribbon that visually reduces the crucifix shape more than the pearls do. This serene and majestic portrait, which is virtually free of religious and royal symbolism, might well have been commissioned as a gift to her minister, Cardinal Mazarin (there is no widow's wimple), whose portraits are also quite devoid of religious symbolism, despite his high rank in the Church.
To be sure, there are portraits of Mazarin wearing full clerical clothes and the symbols of his rank, but the Nanteuils of 1659 and the Regnesson after Champaigne of 1656 have no crucifixes or other religious symbols, either in jewelry or elsewhere. The contrast with Richelieu's portraits is striking. And we must remember that wearing a calotte is not especially ecclesiastical (a red one is!): parlementaires and grands bourgeois often wear them in portraits. Like the Michel Lasne of 1643 and the great Nanteuil van Schuppen after Chauveau of 1659 (which depicts Mazarin in his gallery), there is no religious symbolism other than the robe and rochet. There is no cardinal's hat to accompany the ducal crown in the arms over the doors. The Champaigne of circa 1653 has something of the mood of the Beaubrun, though the view of Vincennes castle in the background breaks the similarities.
There is another Beaubrun showing Anne in the same dress, but with fleur-de-lis drapery. This should not surprise, but it makes the question of whether or not Anne maintained control over her own self-presentation still more difficult to answer. Pictures destined to hang at Val de Grâce would understandably contain more royalist and religious symbols.
Barbara Gaehtgens contributed an entire section on the royal sculptures at the Pont-au-Change, in the splendid volume Mazarin, edited by I. de Conihout and P. Michel, cited above; but here she takes the time to describe, as only the finest of art historians can, not only the symbolic but also the individual Anne in bronze. This yields a very different presentation from that of a painting. Years ago, I pointed out that while learned and convincing, Louis Marin's study of Louis XIV's portraits conveyed a certain royalism, but that the heart of the monarchical phenomenon is in the face and limbs as they age. The science of signs contributes little to the non-conscious perception of aging in others. As the Sun King aged in his images, his subjects not always patiently waited for him to die.
Here Barbara Gaehtgens takes her reader to a still deeper understanding of monarchy in her interpretation of the Warin portrait of Anne lifting up her son, the king, in Warin's Val de Grâce commemoration medal. Intimate in the closeness of the interlocked bodies, it is not really so, because they are not looking at one another! Here again is a work about the distribution of legitimate powers in a regency. Louis seems to be offering his mother a tiny object with his right hand. But what? It is so tempting to suggest that, as a child might, he is giving his mother a tiny favor, or a bug he has picked up. All this could lead to a discussion of just when, in the Ancien Régime, the great iconographic programs began to change from virtue to love, and what role did changing ideas about childhood play? (See T. Kaiser's "Louis le Bien-Aimé and the Rhetoric of the Royal Body," in S.E. Melzer and K. Norberg, eds., From the Royal to the Republican Body..., Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998, pp. 131-161.) His.torians rarely discuss love for royals, because it cannot be measured
A word about shop work and prices. Dorival makes a point about the inferior quality (alleged?) of a work, because the artist charged only 50 livres. Artist-artisan works commissioned or shown at the court usually inspired special care, not only because of possible decisions about future commissions, but also because of the possible critical debate among a growing number of connoisseur courtiers. But above all, it was what other painters said, sotto voce, about a painting that could be devastating once it began to circulate as gossip.
Daniel Lecoeur's illustrated catalogue of Dumonstier's portraits (Paris: Arthena, 2006) provides a social context for Anne's portrait of 1622, which depicts a lively and quite self-confident woman. The Dumonstier showing Anne as a widow, now in the Hermitage, confirms the contention that these small, individualized works remained in fashion in courtly circles, just as they had been a century earlier; but here the technique is different. One wonders if artists fashioned technique according to some aesthetic aim, or whether the changes were made to facilitate the engraver's task. Lecoeur's attribution and critical comment are of the highest interest.
On page 219, the portrait referred to as painted by Manthouière and engraved by Lasne, is on page 122 of the catalog, not page 322.
Alain Mérot's chapter on Anne d'Autriche and artists is, like Dubost's on politics, an overview. Major artistic projects in the Louvre, the Palais-Royal, and Val de Grâce are succinctly presented. Anne's patronage remained essentially French until the 1650s, when Mazarin's Italianate tastes and his support for Romanelli marked a major shift. Mérot describes the sculptures on the Pont-au-Change as being de grandeur naturelle; Gaehtgens (p. 230) sees them as larger than life-size. (Other little contradictions of this sort may be found in the chapters that follow).
Mérot remarks that Anne's taste was Spanish and leaned toward the "clinquant." The tastes of seventeenth-century Europeans no doubt had patriotic resonances, but all we need mention is Marie de Médicis's love of jewelry and reliquaries, and silks and velvets a love shared by Richelieu and Mazarin to an almost unimaginable degree. The court of Charles I lacked the resources but tried to keep up, buying what some English characterized as continental and sinful. Mérot's comment on Anne's taste is more a slur than a historical observation. The presentation of the inventory of the queen's possessions is too brief; and owing to the lack of valuations, it is not very useful for making comparisons.
Though seductive, the quotation from La Fare's Mémoires (p. 252) raises questions about how this soldier could possess information about the court pre-1666, other than from hearsay? La Fare's hostility to later court life and to Louis XIV prompts a nostalgic look backward, not unlike what Saint-Simon will write later. And Chantelou's desire to flatter Bernini by singing the praises of the Medici queens at the expense of the reputation of the queen from Spain, raises doubts about what is revealed about Anne.
The advantage of an overview is that it permits the reader to grasp the coherence, originality, and artistic importance of the great project that was the building and furnishing of Val de Grâce. While it seems to be sound, this overview does not replace Claude Mignot's beautiful little book on the subject published in 1994. Mérot draws particular attention to the contrast between the austerity of the private spaces created for Anne, and the richly-decorated more public spaces notably, the great chapel, with its stunningly beautiful multicolored marble floor, baldachin, and paintings in the dome that depict the apotheosis of Anne.
With his contributions as editor and author, with Isabelle de Conihout, of the Mazarin: les lettres et les arts already cited, Patrick Michel here presents Anne's cadre de vie from a careful reading of the published sources with the exception of Mazarin's letters, notably those written to her and edited by J.A.D. Ravened in 1836. The construction and decoration of the Palais-Royal and the Louvre apartments are admirably presented. According to Motteville, Anne took pleasure in taking guests on tours of her new quarters, including the famous salle des bains. What may seem rich to some can seem clinquant to others. Anne loved silver furniture, owned a silver manger with a gold Infant Jesus, an object that might seem foreign to some until we remember that Mlle de Guise had an entire Santa Casa made of precious metals and gems. At the time, vases, crystal platters, reliquaries, and urns made of semi-precious stones were collected by prominent wealthy families throughout Europe. Richelieu owned whole cases of such objects; and who knows, some of the items in Anne's apartments may have once been his. The inventories seem to indicate little interest in collecting great tapestries, a distinct difference in taste from Mazarin, who quite shadily had purchased the series once owned by Emperor Maximilian and "sold" by the Duke of Guise to the Great Acquirer (Mazarin) via a strawman.
F.U. Wrangel's account of the reception of Christine of Sweden would seem to be routine, like hundreds of other official receptions; but Wrangle notes that Anne seemed bored, inattentive to the compliments directed to her; "but those who knew her, her custom, and who [knew] the vivaciousness of her spirit, judged otherwise" (p. 276). There seems to have been no doubt about her capacity to pay attention; it would seem that, faced with long hours of listening, her thoughts and intelligence became manifest: her eyes wandered and she maintained a composure that did not always square with what was being said to her.
In her Cabinet des bains a complex representation of the mythological accompanied 24 portraits which, in addition to the current king, her husband, and herself, included Habsburgs going back to the fifteenth century! Michel's analysis of the Anguier-Romanelli programs for Anne's apartment in the Louvre are of great precision, and therefore a delight to read.
In 1666, Anne's most expensive ensemble of bed and bedding was estimated at 36,000 livres, a sum not out of line with the evaluations of some of the monumental beds owned by Richelieu and Mazarin.
The major exhibition of the decorative arts from the reigns of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria held at the Louvre (Un Temps d'exubérance, 2002) is frequently referred to in this volume, and rightly so, since so many of the works of art are presented in both volumes. Patrick Michel ends his chapter on "les belles choses" that can be associated with Anne and probably was commissioned or owned by her.
In the chapter on Anne in Un temps d'exubérance, Gérard Mabille concludes that, save for a handful of instances, Anne did not favor Spanish designs or styles when furnishing her quarters, though she did have Chinese silks on some of the furniture. Michel discusses some of items that probably belonged to Anne and that have survived: they are indeed very beautiful. He mentions the royal garde-meuble several times, but he does not pull together exactly what Anne's powers were for "borrowing" from this somewhat mysterious but famous institution.
Michel ends his arresting chapter by mentioning Chantelou's remark to Bernini about the "feminine taste" introduced by Mazarin to please Anne certainly a superficial remark if ever there was one. What might be noted is the constant "traffic" in jewels and precious objects all across the centuries, and its consequences for how foreign courts and local grandees could be impressed by, and intimidated by, pounds and pounds of gold and silver objects, pearls and more pearls, etc. And we must not forget that in civil and foreign wars, selling or pawning these precious items could make the difference between winning and losing. D. David Humphrey's research on Henriette-Marie's sales of English Crown jewels on the Continent, to pay for troops and munitions, presents a case in point.
Alexandre Gady sets the context for Anne's building projects by discussing what the two Médicis queens built: Catherine built the Tuileries and its gardens, Marie the Luxembourg and its gardens. Marguerite de Valois is not mentioned, in part perhaps because of her personal fate and divorce, but also because her great residential project on the Left Bank and its garden did not survive. Anne's contributions to various monastic edifices is noted, but it was her personal forty-year-long attention to the design and building of Val de Grâce that marked her reign. Gady also notes her mark on the Louvre and the Palais-Royal, but he rightly concentrates on Val de Grâce because the queen concentrated on it. Her choice of a young community, while perhaps yielding less prestige than adding a large new chapel to a well-established convent, permitted her to shape the spirituality, the selection of abbesses, and the architecture, personalizing all three to a degree. set on what, for Paris, was a vast tract of land, Val de Grâce would inspire more awe than the buildings of any of the communities in the area. French in spirit and design (though St. Peter's comes to mind when contemplating the dome and the high altar!). Royalism as bigger and often better in design would similarly be sustained by Anne's son, in the partially rebuilt Louvre and the château of Vincennes. The crowned AL initials of Val de Grâce would be succeeded by the crowned double L's.
Concepts such as art (tout court), plastic arts, and decorative arts are indispensable shorthand for planning chapters in books, where the decorative arts always come after painting, sculpture, and architecture. But such general terms may impede more historical and/or critical modes of presentation and analysis. In describing the famous édicule built on to Anne's apartments, resting on columns and richly decorated, Gady sees it as resembling a petit meuble précieux, and rightly so. Its shape suggests the Spanish bargeno or portable desk, a rectangular case on a table. There is beauty, grandeur, and whimsy in this wonderful work that cries out for a more subtle, deeply historical and aesthetic/authentic analytical vocabulary to describe and interpret it than any we presently have for furniture or architecture. The vocabulary about the noble art of architecture rightly cedes its place before that of the decorative arts. The same might be said for the emotional affect prompted by walking over the geometric marble paving in the great chapel, which would probably have pleased Borromini.
In the final two chapters, Laurent Avezou and Chantal Grell review all the gossipy anecdotes about pregnancies and all the alleged plots associated with Anne's long life at the French court. Biography as a genre has constraints: if an author omits the alleged affair with Buckingham, certain readers will be disappointed. As general editor of this volume, Grell remarks that she and Dubost agreed that she would write up this tawdry material, while he would present the general politics of the reign. The reader now knows why the Dubost chapter seems devoid of color and character. Without descending into ragots, he might have given, at greater length, his own understanding of how Anne's personality framed political action.
Avezou explores all the old, impossible-to-fathom, "what really happened" aspects of Anne's life, as found or not found in sources from the seventeenth century. Grell takes up essentially all the same anecdotes, as written by historians in the nineteenth century. The notion that these historians were judging Anne misses the mark. Most of this material involves different types of cultural projections on Anne and on Louis: courtly, medical, institutional (Mazarin's status in the Church), and psychological. The French word fatras comes to mind while reading this narrative, these notes, these sources. Three points come to mind:
1) The work of A. Chéruel is mentioned for its importance in altering the historiographical directions about Mazarin; but what he says about Anne's various cultural roles and political persona is not elucidated, a missed opportunity. It is true that Chéruel generally perceives Anne as playing a passive role in the Fronde, but that role was in fact very complex.
2) Secondly, the recent research about Catherine de Médicis's political role and "public" image and still more, Marie-Antoinette's suggests that there was something almost structural in the pursuit of a sense of intimacy on the part of subjects that unleashed fantasies, fears, anxieties, and love-hate relationships with queens. Had Grell read the recent work on Marie-Antoinette, she would have developed a critical perspective on the fatras about Anne, and would have cut most of it out, in order to leaves pages for a more general conclusion.
3) After reflecting briefly on this volume, it occurs to me that the biography of Anne by my late friend, Ruth Kleinman, and her articles on Anne's ladies-in-waiting and her final illness, have stood up very well. And while Claude Dulong's research on the fermesse in Anne's and Mazarin's letters is duly noted, her conclusions about courtly love and the love letter in general might have been given more emphasis. Also, the letters exchanged by Anne and Mazarin when Louis XIV was falling in love, and dangerously so, with Mazarin's niece, reveal anxious parental love felt by both the godfather and the widowed mother of the king.
Themes for further research might also be mentioned. What books were dedicated to Anne? One by Pierre Perrin, La Chartreuse, is magnificently reproduced in a volume edited by Isabelle de Conihout and Frédéric Gabriel under the title Poésie et calligraphie imprimée à Paris au XVIIe siècle (Paris: Bibliothèque Mazarine, 2004). And just where were (and are) chapels built to honor St. Anne and Anne of Austria across the realm? I can think of one at Apt!
But the great underlying theme in this book, a theme that is never explored, is of course female royalism. The Tombe de la Reine, an engraving by Israël Silvestre (1666), depicts a pyramid of flaming hearts surrounded by ruins of ancient monuments. Among the lines beneath the illustration is: "Elle est dans tous les coeurs encore après sa mort" (p. 103). Barbara Gaehtgens approaches this theme when she describes the emotional valences in Varin's medal on Val de Grâce (p. 103): she suggests that more than symbols of dignity and majesty were associated with this, the second highest office in the realm. Georges Dethan's Mazarin et ses amis (Paris: Berger Levrault, 1968) clarifies and substantiates the inferences made here and there in this volume about the emotional intensity that was an integral part of the political life which was Anne's. These days, there seem to be few historians with the daring of Marc Bloch or Carlos Eires. A propitious start that begins with body studies, but goes beyond them, is Abby Zanger's "Lim(b)inal Images: betwixt and between Louis XIV's Martial and Marital Bodies," in S.E. Melzer and K. Norberg (cited above), pp. 32-63. But until Anne's queenliess is really set in religious and cultural contexts, it will escape us.
Orest Ranum, December 2009