Portraits of Anne of Austria

Portraits of Anne of Austria

  • Anne of Austria, regent, Louis XIV and Philippe of France, Duke of Anjou.


  • Anne of Austria represented in full royal costume.

    BEAUBRUN Workshop of the Brothers (1630 - 1675)

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Title: Anne of Austria, regent, Louis XIV and Philippe of France, Duke of Anjou.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1645

Dimensions: Height 188cm - Width 185cm

Technique and other indications: Around 1645

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Picture reference: 07-523748 / MV3369

Anne of Austria, regent, Louis XIV and Philippe of France, Duke of Anjou.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Anne of Austria represented in full royal costume.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / All rights reserved

Publication date: April 2016

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII and mother of Louis XIV

The young Infanta of Spain Anne of Austria, eldest daughter of Philippe III, born in 1601, became queen of France by her marriage to Louis XIII in 1615. It was not until 1638 that the queen gave birth to a child, Louis Dieudonné , future Louis XIV. Relations with Louis XIII, marked by tensions and even conflict, are struggling to calm down. When the king died in 1643, the young Louis XIV was only 4 years and 8 months old, and Anne of Austria was in charge of the kingdom of France. Widow and mother of the king, she jealously defends her son's authority while relying on Cardinal Mazarin to exercise sovereign authority.

The portraits of Anne of Austria are numerous, as befits any sovereign, and moreover a great European power. The link with the king (deceased or minor) is underlined with ostentation to strengthen the royal power weakened by the minority of the young Louis XIV.

The first painting belongs to the vein of dynastic family portraits without knowing either the author or the precise date of its creation, around 1645 after the age of the two children. Anne of Austria appears there alone, but dressed in the garb of sovereignty.

Image Analysis

Queen mother and regent

The two portraits present Anne of Austria seated and three-quarter-length, as is the tradition of portraying this princess from the canvases of Rubens and from the Galerie des Hommes illustres commissioned by Richelieu. The queen's face is framed in curls and crowned with raised hair - in accordance with the fashion of the mid-17th centurye century -, and enhanced with a simple pearl necklace and matching earrings. Moreover, if a purple curtain closes the horizon in both works and thus symbolically recalls the exercise ofimperium, the staging is profoundly different and does not carry the same meaning.

In the anonymous painting, the queen is surrounded by her two children, Louis XIV on the left (born in 1638), Philippe d 'Anjou on the right (born in 1640). A closed crown is placed on a rich piece of furniture near the little Louis XIV to remind us that he is the depositary of sovereign authority. The queen protects her son Philippe with a maternal gesture that keeps him in her lap, while she places her right hand on the forearm of her eldest son, to show that she is guiding him even if he is the King. The only one wearing a fleur-de-lis garment, Anne of Austria poses confidently between her two sons, wearing a sumptuous pink dress. Louis XIV is painted in a golden child's dress; like his brother, he wears the blue cord and the cross of the order of the Holy Spirit.

On the canvas of the Beaubrun brothers, Anne of Austria alone occupies the stage space. Sitting on an upholstered chair, she wears a rich fleur-de-lis ceremonial dress bordered by an ermine, which is also made of her train. A pair of gloves rest casually on a rug-covered table that bears the same gold and red patterns as the chair. More generally, gold and red tones dominate the decor on which the white and blue dress stands out clearly. The gloves and the dress explicitly refer to French royalty and therefore to the ceremony of an imaginary coronation, since Anne of Austria was never crowned queen of France (the last crowned queen in France was Marie de Medici). It wears all the finery of sovereignty, which it also exercises as regent in a legitimate and legal manner, without being itself the source of its own authority.


Represent sovereignty by proxy

Anne of Austria must assert herself on the death of Louis XIII to restore order, but the balance of power is inherently precarious during a period of regency. The staging of the dynastic bond and the demonstration of the king's young age, painted in the anonymous painting wearing the children's dress, are thus instruments aimed at legitimizing the regency and ensuring dynastic permanence. The presence of a second boy, Philippe d'Anjou, further strengthens the right of royal blood and should reassure the spectators of the painting: the existence of an heir to the throne counterbalances the fragility of a monarchy whose future does not hold. than a child barely 7 years old. We are thus in the presence of an affirmation of continuity, stability and dynastic legitimacy.

A few years later, the portrait of the Beaubrun brothers was painted in a completely different context. The Fronde, begun in 1648, and the end of Louis XIV's minority, who officially came of age in 1651, helped strengthen the royal will to show the legitimacy of the exercise of power by Anne of Austria. The symbols of majesty are enough to say that Anne of Austria belongs to the group of sovereigns in office, without the need to represent her alongside her son, whose age heralds the expected end of the regency, scheduled for the day when the king comes of age, September 7, 1651. This date does not actually change the exercise of royal authority, since the king officially entrusts it to his mother. Anne of Austria therefore continues to govern the kingdom of France, no longer in the name of the dynastic succession and of the minor king, but in the name of the full will of the major king.

Neither of these two representations portrays the queen as a widow of Louis XIII, although it was also a topos the royal portrait during the regency (Charles Beaubrun thus signed a portrait of Anne of Austria in half mourning around 1650, precisely at the same time as that of the second portrait). This choice is deliberate and participates in an aesthetic of sovereignty where motherhood and regency prevail over emptiness and the inability to embody anything other than sovereignty by default because the queen only exists through the king. .

  • Louis XIV
  • Anne of Austria
  • Sling
  • absolute monarchy
  • regency
  • official portrait
  • Mazarin (cardinal of)
  • Louis XIII
  • Orleans (d ') Philippe (brother of Louis XIV)


BERTIÈRE Simone, The queens of France at the time of the Bourbons. I: The two regents, Paris, LGF, coll. “The pocket book” (no 14 529), 1998 (1st ed. Paris, Éditions de Fallois, 1996).

COSANDEY Fanny, The Queen of France: symbol and power (15th-18th century), Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Library of stories", 2000.

GRELL Chantal (dir.), Anne of Austria: Infanta of Spain and Queen of France, Paris, Perrin / Madrid, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica / Versailles, Research Center of the Palace of Versailles, coll. "The Habsburgs", 2009.

KLEINMAN Ruth, Anne of Austria, trad. from English by CIECHANOWSKA Ania, Paris, Fayard, 1993 (1st ed. orig. Colombus, Ohio State University Press, 1985).

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "Portraits of Anne of Austria"

Video: I will survive and be the one whos stronger - Anne of Austria