Allegory of Charles IX as Mars and Allegory of Catherine de 'Medici as Juno

Object Details

Title:

Allegory of Charles IX as Mars and Allegory of Catherine de 'Medici as Juno

Artist/Maker:

Léonard Limosin (French, about 1505 - 1575/1577)

Culture:

French

Date:

1573

Medium:

Polychrome enamel with painted gold highlights on copper and silver

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These small enamel plaques present allegorical portraits of Charles IX and his mother, Queen Catherine de'Medici. On one plaque, Charles appears in the guise of Mars, wielding a shield and sword and drawn in a chariot by wolves, animals sacred to the god of war. Behind him, a war-ravaged land unfolds. In otherwordly pastel colors, tiny figures depict the effects of war on the bottom right. On the pendant plaque, Catherine appears as Juno, wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars. She wears a veil and carries a scepter, referring to Juno's roles as goddess of marriage and queen of the gods. Behind her chariot pulled by peacocks, a glorious rainbow arches above a peaceful pastoral landscape.

The iconography, which may have been dictated by Catherine, probably celebrates her role in promoting the Peace of Saint Germain, which temporarily ended the Religious Wars in France. Her representation as Juno also refers to her success in arranging marriages between her children and foreign heads of states: she recently had negotiated Charles's marriage to Margaret of Austria, a political rival. Small-scale versions of oil paintings, these plaques were designed to be hung with other enamels in an intimate room.

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