Monday, 24 September 2012

It's Tough to Be the Queen - Part 3


We turn now to the next installment of Rubens’ Medici cycle.  Last time young Marie got educated by a bunch of scantily clad gods in a cave.  Having established she had a childhood, blah blah blah, this week she gets to her important womanly duty of wooing a man.  And she doesn’t even have to be present to do it!
When some angels descend to show her portrait to Henry IV of France, he is immediately besotted and desirous to engage her in holy matrimony.  I, personally, would be a little weirded out by someone I had never met writing to propose out of the blue because “some cherubim showed me your totally hawt pics,” but whatever.
Everyone and everything in the universe is supportive of this marriage.  Divine support is shown by Jupiter and Juno hanging out on a cloud, looking down with vaguely smug expressions at the lovestruck Henry.  They are supposed to present a model “marital harmony,” which is a little ironic given Jupiter’s difficulty keeping his thunderbolt in his toga.  But then, given that ol’ Henry had a few mistresses, including one that had borne him three kids before his first divorce and another he’d promised to marry but then changed his mind for Marie, maybe it isn’t such a bad parallel.
Here are a couple of naked baby angels playing with armor.  Aww, he’s so sweet cuddling that helmet!  I guess this represents, I dunno, that matrimony is war? 
This figure creepily breathing down Henry’s neck is France.  France is depicted here as “being both woman and man at the same time.”  Because nothing says national support for royal brides like breathless spooning from a bare-boobed hermaphrodite.

Edit: I had written about her young age previously, but it turns out I had a terrible mathematical brain slip, and Marie was actually kind of an old maid for the period.  My apologies.

BONUS PICTURE

I found this while looking up stuff on Henry IV, and it was too awesome not to share.  Painted by the circle of Toussaint Dubreuil about 1600—the year Henry married Marie—he is shown as Hercules slaying the Hydra. 
Why yes, this is my real body.

12 comments:

  1. That's not the face of a man who's just killed the hydra! "Hoping that the hydra will nibble my nether regions" is what that face is saying.

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    1. I like to think that his conquering of the hydra is representing his management of his first wife, "official" mistress, second beloved mistress, second wife, and other assorted mistresses. In which case your interpretation would fit right in!

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    2. Strike a pose is what that face is saying. Wish that thing would bite him in the ass.

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  2. This seems like it's the basis for internet dating. Here's a picture of me (yes, it's a perfect likeness and not at all idealized cough cough). You like it? Awesome, married.

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    1. That sounds about right. I wonder if the angels are any more accurate in their recommendations than eHarmony...

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  3. Amazing that after battling with a hydra, he'd pose with a total, "yup. Nailed it!" face... seems more like a moment for humble recognition of the difficulty in vanquishing a worthy... oh, right. Henry IV. Yup. Nailed it!

    Also, it's funny. I've always THOUGHT of France as a breathless spooning bare-boobed hermaphrodite. #FrenchBias #amirite #WhyAmIUsingHashtagsWhenNotOnTwitter

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    1. My partner jokingly refers to the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." So I guess being a BSBBH is slightly more flattering? #BritishBias #itsajokesonotracistright #CoolKidsUseHashtagsRandomly

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  4. That expression in the second painting is totally the same one my Dad gets when he guesses the right suitcase in Lets Make A Deal.

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    1. That is an impressive level of smugness!

      I have to confess that I am not up on my game shows, but when I looked this up one of the pictures of example booby prizes was a live llama. That might be the best booby prize ever.

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  5. Trouble keeping his thunderbolt in his toga.. priceless...

    For some reason my damn subscription this blog isn't mailing me when you do updates. )&!)^!! I'll figure it out...

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    1. Thanks! Technology is often a strange and mysterious deity. Although usually arcane knowledge suffices to control it, sometimes it seems to require appropriate sacrifice to work properly...

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