Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Air: Louis XIV as Jupiter, from a set of eight wall hangings depicting the Elements and the Seasons, ca. 1683
    French
    Silk, wool, and metal thread; 168 x 108 in. (427 x 274.3 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1946 (46.43.4)

    Reflecting the grandeur of the official court style of Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), named "premier peintre" by Louis XIV in 1662, the impressive program of Elements and Seasons is made more personal by having the king, the marquise de Montespan, and six of their children take the roles of the central figures. The complete set, of which four hangings are in the Museum, may be identical to wall decorations in "tapisserie de petit point" that decorated the king's apartment at the Château de Rambouillet. Here, the monarch is shown as Jupiter, seated on an eagle and holding thunderbolts and a Medusa-headed shield. Also meant to personify Air, the figure is surrounded by winged creatures—parrots, raptors (including a hooded falcon), songbirds, and butterflies—as well as wind instruments. Commissioned by the marquise de Montespan (1641–1707), the hangings were probably embroidered at the Parisian convent of Saint-Joseph-de-la-Providence, which also executed other royal projects, including furnishings for Versailles. One of the marquise's favorite charities—she was named a director in 1681 and retired there ten years later—the convent provided vocational training in needlework for orphan girls.

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    On view: Gallery 531
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  • Air: Louis XIV as Jupiter, from a set of eight wall hangings depicting the Elements and the Seasons, ca. 1683
    French
    Silk, wool, and metal thread; 168 x 108 in. (427 x 274.3 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1946 (46.43.4)

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