Book Series Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, vol. 14.1

The Medici Series

Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard XIV.1

Nils Büttner

  • Pages: 580 p.
  • Size:180 x 265 mm
  • Illustrations:169 b/w, 101 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024



Nils Büttner is professor of art history at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart.


The decoration of the Luxembourg Palace galleries was the largest commission Rubens ever received. On Saturday 26 February 1622, Rubens signed two contracts at the Louvre with the agreement of ‘parfaire et peindre de sa propre main touttes et chacunnes des figures des tableaux’ (‘to make and paint with his own hand all and every figures of the paintings’) which would decorate the two parallel galleries of the palace that the Queen Mother, Maria de’ Medici (1573–1642), had begun to have built on the left bank of the Seine (see Appendix I). According the first contract (Appendix I.1), the western gallery had already been finished by that time (‘l’une des galleries qui est desjà faicte’) and Rubens ‘sera tenu et s’oblige de desseigner et peindre de sa propre main vingt quatre tableaux dans lesquels seront repntez les histoires de la vie très illustre & gestes héroïques’(‘was committed and obliged to design and to paint with his own hand twenty-four paintings depicting the history of the very illustrious life and heroic exploits’) of the Queen Mother, conforming to an incomplete memoir, of which he had received a copy. Rubens arrived in Paris to put the final touches on these twenty-four large canvases glorifying the life of Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of February 1625. But by then the eastern gallery, planned to decorate with the ‘battles’ of King Henri IV (1553–1610), Maria’s late husband, was still under construction. The Henri IV Gallery became finally an unfinished masterpiece of Rubens: after a temporary suspension of the work in 1630, the project was definitive abandoned in 1631. Alexis Merle du Bourg’s in-depth study about the Henri IV Series was published as Part XIV.2 of the Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard in 2017. The volume presented here thus precedes that story.