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Seen as a vicious, malicious, poisonous queen, Catherine was much more than that. Yet her representation in the arts fail to show anything but her negative qualities and that she was, in fact, a force to be reckoned with. Portrayed here in dark clothes, holding the head of Gaspard de ColignyCatherine has been blamed for the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre that occurred during the night of 23rd to 24th August A politically motivated bloodshed orchestrated by the Guises and blamed on the royal family, particularly Catherine, aimed at killing one of the Huguenot leaders, Coligny, and ended up as a full massacre of thousands of Protestants.
To this day, there is no strong evidence of Catherine's culpability, yet she remains the monster behind it. In this portrait, she seems to be full of regret, holding a white tissue and looking at what is supposed to be her biggest mistake. It is, however, not the only portrait of her where she is depicted as guilty of the massacre. In this painting, entitled Charles IX and the French Court on the Morning of Saint Bartholomew's Massacreshe is depicted in black, right behind the king, Charles IX —her second son, and next to what seems to be a cardinal.
Everyone else looks shocked, horrified — many are gossiping about what just happened. But not Catherine, and not Charles. They remain the central, stoic figures in this painting, as if they knew what had happened as they were the ones giving the orders. For years, Catherine endeavoured to find a compromise between Protestants and Catholics. Their wedding brought Protestants and Catholics together to the capital city. It was a display of Catherine's and Charles's royal authority and control over the negotiations taking place between them and the Protestant leaders.
They had no true motives to order Coligny's death. The Guiseson the other hand, had plenty. The Guises blamed Coligny for his assassination. The court portrayed in this painting looks gloomy and dark — as it has been represented for centuries by other painters, artists, playwrights, and even some historians. The myth around Catherine's responsibility for, and guilt in, the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre still exists.
But Catherine was more than that. Daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici —Duke of Urbino, and of Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne —she had an extraordinary destiny. Henri II of France —on Horseback.
Henri II of France — was, like many European monarchs of his time, a strong Catholic warrior king who had learnt how to rule from his father's example. Catherine picked up the rules of the court by the side of the old king. The marriage between Henri and Catherine was not based on love but was a political one. For all her position and status, Catherine found herself in the shadow of her husband's gorgeous mistress — Diane de Poitiers.
It did not prevent her, however, to fulfil her duty as wife and queen consort of France and produce 11 children. Mary, Queen of Scots — They should have had a lifetime of sovereignty over France, but fate decided otherwise. There, she was held prisoner for over 18 years and then executed for treason on 8th February Elizabeth I — c. The English queen affectionately named him 'the frog'.
Catherine de' Medici —Queen of France c. Catherine was no conventional beauty. Portrayed here as quite chubby, she looks stern and unfriendly.
But in the end, it did not matter as she remains an exemplary queen who was devoted to her family and country, and who knew how to rule in a male-dominated world. Portrait of a Lady said to be Catherine de' Medici, — Until the end of her life, she was mourning the death of her beloved husband, but this was mostly a political stance — she was, in fact, reminding everyone that she was the mother of kings and that she had earned the title of Queen Mother of France. Her life and achievements should be remembered and praised.
She remained an astute politician of her time until her death. Estelle Paranquehistorian and author. Created with Sketch. About Discover Learn Support us. Main menu Close. in Register. address. Remember me uncheck on a public computer. First name. up to the Art UK newsletter. Mary, Queen of Scots in art and literature. Gloriana and the Virgin Queen: portraits of Elizabeth I. The life of the White Queen in paintings. The mystery of Jacques Aved and a French revolutionary's grandmother. Queen Anne in 'The Favourite': gout, scandal and sabotage.
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Saint or sinner?Beautiful black queen looking for her white king
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