Artibus et Historiae no. 51 (XXVI)

2005, ISSN 0391-9064

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JULIUSZ A. CHROŚCICKI - The Recovered Modello of P.P. Rubens' Disembarkation at Marseilles. The Problem of Control and Censorship in the Cycle Life of Maria de' Medici

The cycle Life of Maria de' Medici painted by Peter Paul Rubens, which was executed by the artist for the Western Gallery in Palais du Luxemburg in Paris (1622-1625), was subject to political control, first and foremost by the entourage of the Queen Mother herself, and in the final stages also by King Louis XIII. One of the proofs of the existence of a system of control over the cycle are Rubens' bozzetto and modello for Disembarkation at Marseilles. The bozzetto, dated 1622, is in the collection of Alte Pinakothek in Munich, the modello - in a private collection and has not so far been described at length in literature. The modello was executed by Rubens; it may have been completed with the help of Rubens' then co-worker, Justus van Egmont. The sense of the changes in the composition of Disembarkation of Maria de' Medici at Marseilles (bozzetto - modello - painting) can be explained by the likely intervention of one of the clergymen (probably Abbé Saint-Ambroise) from the Queen Mother's immediate entourage. After the rejection of Rubens' original composition (bozzetto in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich), the artist had to paint another painting - modello (which by definition is larger in format than bozzetto and represents a greater degree of precision with regard to detail) in order to win the court's approval for the new composition. It is the only painting which exists in an intermediary format in-between a sketch (bozzetto) and a large-sized, monumental painting from the Louvre. The modello must have originated after the bozzetto; it was probably painted in Paris in May 1623, due to controversies which arose around the final version of The Disembarkation at Marseilles.

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