The triumph of Juliers

The triumph of Juliers

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Title: The Triumph of Juliers, September 1, 1610

Author : RUBENS Pierre Paul (1577 - 1640)

Creation date : 1622 -

Date shown: September 1, 1610

Dimensions: Height 394 cm - Width 295 cm

Technique and other indications: Said in the past: Marie de Medici's trip to Pont-de-Cé in Anjou

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / René-Gabriel Ojéda / Thierry Le Mage Photographic agency

Picture reference: 02-000775

The Triumph of Juliers, September 1, 1610

© RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / René-Gabriel Ojéda / Thierry Le Mage

Publication date: October 2017

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

The equestrian portrait of Marie de Medici

The preparatory program negotiated in 1622 between the painter Rubens and the entourage of Marie de Medici foresaw that a canvas depict the capture of Juliers and showcase the queen as an accomplished and victorious horsewoman. To decorate the western gallery of the Luxembourg Palace, built to serve as a Parisian residence for Marie de Médicis, Rubens in fact delivered in 1625 a series of twenty-four large-sized canvases intended to signify, in epic fashion, the significant events. of the life of the queen mother, born Florentine princess, became queen of France then regent on the death ofHenry IV in 1610, before being ousted from power by her son Louis XIII in 1617. His return to grace at the beginning of 1622 echoed his desire to restore his authority and legitimacy through the arts.

The historical episode to which the work refers takes place during the summer of 1610. Continuing the commitments made by Henry IV to support the Protestant empire princes, Marie de Medici intervened in the crisis in the Duchy of Juliers. Marie de Medici's prudence and her attachment to limiting the war prompted her to recall the army as soon as the capture of Juliers was obtained.

Rubens chose, in concert with the Queen Mother, to paint an equestrian and warrior portrait emphasizing the male attributes of a sovereignty exercised by a woman.

Image Analysis

The laurels of victory

The queen, a haughty Amazon, rides a white frame with a controlled demeanor and an enveloping mane. She is lavishly dressed in a white dress studded with golden lilies. Helmet with a crest on her head, she holds the bridles in one hand and the command staff in the other. A winged Victory stripped bare the crown of laurels, thus designating the glorious destiny of the queen, which a Fame helps to make known to her trunk on the right end. On the left, feet on the ground, Generosity lays a hand on the head of a lion and holds jewelry that it pretends to want to distribute, like the fruits of the capture of Juliers.

In the right background, in a twilight atmosphere, Juliers, surrounded by walls, is painted with its entrenchments. In front of the city, an army - the cavalry commanded by Marshal de La Châtre - completed the theater of war operations: the besieged surrendered to the French, thus avoiding the essential role played by the Dutch in the capture of the city. Rubens therefore uses all the springs of the allegory of victory and plays a proud queen and paradoxical mistress of armies.


Queen of war and queen of peace

War is the traditional attribute of male power and the war king, studied by Joël Cornette, the emblematic figure of a regenerated monarchy on the battlefield. Here, Rubens diverts common sense from warlike attributes while adapting them to incarnate them in the figure of Marie de Medici. Queen Regent, she indeed holds the reins of government, including those of war and peace. However, as a woman, she is unable to wage war or take command of the troops. The visual and symbolic telescoping imposed by Rubens therefore creates the illusion of a war queen who has recovered the staff of command and who is reaping the fruits of victory. The exercise of sovereignty prevails over the sex of the person who embodies it. The absence of Louis XIII, then a child, is indicative of the Rubenian desire to erase royal mediation to strengthen the queen's natural legitimacy to rule by proxy. The glory whose canvas prides the queen indeed legitimizes and confirms a posteriori her right to exercise power in the name of her minor son.

Yet the Rubenian cycle invests Marie de Medici with the qualities of a queen of peace rather than a queen of war. The princely marriages of 1615 or the recurring figure of Mercury are an apology for the queen's pacific policy. So this is probably the way to read The Triumph of Juliers, confiscation of male attributes for the benefit of a female monarch and consecration of the Queen's peace-making warrior. Through painting, she is a queen who asserts her shameful and impossible to rule claim as a man in the land of Salic law. In this sense, Marie de Médicis and Rubens want to offer "the illusion of sovereignty maintained beyond institutional and political standards" (F. Cosandey).

  • royal bride
  • Medici (Marie de)
  • battlefield
  • allegory
  • regency
  • horse
  • equestrian portrait


Fanny COSANDEY, The Queen of France. Symbol and power, Gallimard, Paris, 2000.

Id., “To represent a queen of France. Marie de Medici and the cycle of Rubens at the Luxembourg Palace ”, in Clio. Women, Gender, History [online], 19 - 2004, posted on November 27, 2005, consulted on September 30, 2016. URL:

Jean-François DUBOST, Marie de Medici. The queen unveiled, Payot, Paris, 2009.

Marie-Anne LESCOURRET, Rubens, Flammarion, Paris, 1990.

Marie de Médicis, government through the arts, Somogy art editions and Château de Blois, 2003 (exhibition catalog).

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "The triumph of Juliers"


  • Medici: Florentine family of bankers, collectors and protectors of the arts. Its members gradually seized power in Florence in the 15th century. Two great Renaissance popes came from it: Leo X (1475-1521) and Clement VII (1478-1534). Ennobled in the 16th century, the Medici family allied itself twice with France by giving it two queens and regents: Catherine (1519-1589), wife of Henri II, and Marie (1575-1642), wife of Henri IV .

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