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Title: "Un roi, une loi, une foi": Henri IV and the portrait of the king
Authors: Kwan, Jamie
Advisors: Kaufmann, Thomas
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: France
Henri IV
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines how the first Bourbon king of France, Henri IV, created a groundbreaking artistic program that reinforced his nascent absolutist reforms and established Bourbon royal legitimacy after the Wars of Religion. It looks at a range of works in various media including painting, print, and sculpture from both the private and public spheres to explore how the king’s program of royal portraiture worked in tandem with his policy of “un roi, une loi, une foi” (one king, one law, one faith) to establish unity of rule and religion vested within the figure of the king. While previous studies of Henri IV contextualize his art with that of the previous dynasty, the Valois, this project reassesses Henri’s artistic patronage, arguing that the Bourbon king ultimately laid the groundwork for absolutist rule and its art, which would reach its peak with his grandson Louis XIV, through the creation of a royal visual program based upon the image of the monarch. The first chapter focuses on painted literary portraits of Henri and queen Marie de Medici. It demonstrates how the selection of contemporary texts as source material for these paintings allowed for flexible interpretation: the monarchs, by portraying themselves as the protagonists of epics and romances, were able to address issues pertinent to the royal agenda, such as legitimacy, succession, and religious unity. The second chapter examines the printed portrayals of the king, which became widespread under Henri’s reign, and the depiction of power through the princely body. It looks at how printed portraits helped create a recognizable, iconic image of the king while broadsheets documenting royal ceremonies legitimized Bourbon power. The introduction of advanced burin techniques and the concept of works made contrafacta became essential for representing corporeality, which became increasingly important in establishing princely authority. The final chapter turns to the literal embodiment of the king through sculpted portraits—both small sculpture made for private spaces and monumental works intended for the semi-private and public spheres. The section examines the growing importance of the prince’s corporeal form as it proliferated in both the public and private milieu.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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