Group portrait with Henri IV of France

On 05 February 2020, by Philippe Dufour

A portrait of the king's entire family stood out at the sale of the collections furnishing Baron Alain de Montgascon's private mansion in La Flèche.

Early 17th century French school, Henri IV and Queen Marie de' Medici with their children and the Marquis Guillaume Fouquet de la Varenne, oil on canvas, 199 x 139 cm.
Result: €171,600

The impressively large painting was attributed to an artist of the early 17th century French school, from the circle of Jacob Bunel, a favourite artist of the "good king's", after an initial attribution to a follower of Frans Pourbus. Well documented, this key work depicting Henri IV of France (who reigned from 1589 to 1610) and Queen Marie de' Medici with their children inevitably picked up a fine sum: €171,600, double its high estimate. It provides detailed physiognomies of four of the royal couple's six children: the future Louis XIII, Elisabeth, future Queen of Spain, Christine, and Monsieur d'Orléans. At the bottom left, we see a bust of an ancestor of the Baron de Montgascon: Marquis Guillaume Fouquet de La Varenne, who commissioned this painting. He began his career as "cloakbearer" to the man who was still only Henri de Navarre at the time. During his protector's reign, he was appointed governor of La Flèche (Sarthe), a town where he had his tomb built in the church of the Jesuit college, at the foot of the urn that contained the king's heart after his death.

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