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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Equestrian portrait of Françoise St. Géran, née de Warignes, by Pierre Mignard, c. 1670

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MignardGeran

oil on canvas, 67,5 x 57 cm, Skoklosters Slott, Håbo, Sweden, inv. nr. 3150
 

This painting of an elegant and noble lady has an interesting background. It is part of a series of six equestrian portraits of ladies who were close to the court of King Louis XIV in Versailles. They were all commissioned by the Duc Daumont, as annotated on the backside of the each painting. On a cartouche down left of the painting the name of the lady has been inscribed. This series got somehow into the possession of the Swedish ambassador in France during 1679-1682, Niels Bielkegatan, maybe as gift of Louis XIV. On the background the royal castle of Versailles is visible. The elegant and elaborate dress of the lady with her self-assured countenance, the vigorous spotted horse, and the extensive castle on the background, all these aspects contribute to the impressionating character of this work. The same is true for the other paintings in this series of six works. By riding her horse in this very active way, this lady shows how strong her position is in her social class.

It is striking that six ladies were chosen to be portrayed on horseback to give an impression of the court life in France. They are not mounted in a passive style, but show active riding. Their luxuriuos dress probably was not the one they really wore on horseback, but the ladies show that they can master their horse even in this dress.