Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Aristocratic Diana

Marie-Joséphine-Louise de Savoie, comtesse de Provence as Diana by François-Hubert Drouais. 1773.
credit: (C) RMN-Grand Palais (Château de Versailles) / Gérard Blot

Allegorical portraits were a popular choice among the upper classes society for centuries. The 17th and 18th centuries saw a significant revival of interest in the ancient world, and portraits depicting their subjects as mythology-based allegorical portraits became widespread.

Diana, goddess of the moon and the hunt, was an especially popular choice for noble women. The portraits of these aristocratic "Dianas" usually depicted them at rest or in a traditional portrait style with the varied trappings (bow and arrow, a crescent moon headdress, hunting dogs, and so on) of their chosen goddess. Some women, such as the comtesse de Provence, even had themselves painted as Diana more than once!

Why was she such as popular choice? There is no definitive answer. It may be that Diana just happened to be the goddess-du-jour in court circles at the time. Perhaps her association with the hunt, a popular court activity, is what made her so appealing. .Or maybe her costume, often included a whimsical crescent moon headdress, was just too fanciful to pass on. Whatever the reason, she was popular and subsequently there is an abundance of portraits of noble women as Diana still in existence today. Here are a few that have really caught my eye!

 Marie de Rohan, duchesse de Chevreuse, as Diana by Claude Deruet. Circa 1630.
credit: Reinette

Portrait of a Lady as Diana by a French school artist. (Possibly Henri Beaubrun or Claude Deruet.) Circa 1635.
credit: Reinette

Henriette von Nassau as Diana by Willem van Honthorst. Circa 1640.
credit: Reinette

Louise de La Vallière as Diana by Claude Lefebvre. 1667.

Marie-Adélaïde of France as Diana by Jean-Marc Nattier. 1745.

Portrait of a Gentlewoman as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt by an unknown French school artist. 18th century.

 Luise Henriette Wilhelmine von Anhalt-Dessau as Diana by Charles van Loo. Circa 1765.
credit: Reinette

Mademoiselle de la Rivière as Diana by Johann Heinsius. 18th century.
credit: (C) RMN-Grand Palais / Agence Bulloz

Portrait of the comtesse de Provence as Diana by Ludwig Guttenbrunn. 18th century.
credit: (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée Magnin) / Thierry Le Mage

1 comment:

  1. I own the painting of Diana, Goddess of the hunt. I love your blog!