The Disembarkation at Marseilles

size(cm): 50x40
Sale price£144 GBP


It is one of the 24 paintings that make up the so-called Cycle of Marie de' Medici —commissioned by the Italian-born French queen, widow of King Henry IV of France, to represent and celebrate fundamental moments in her life— The landing in Marseille represents Maria leaving her ship in the French port escorted by Poseidon, Triton and a trio of voluptuous Nereids. The commission, thanks to Marie's stubborn character, is rumored to have been fraught with tension, and interestingly, Belgian art writer Roger Avermaete once suggested that the inclusion of mythical, curvaceous Nereids might have been a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the queen, perhaps by Rubens. reaction to the difficult commission. Today the Landing at Marseilles hangs alongside the 23 other paintings in the cycle in the Louvre in Paris.

In The Disembarkation at Marseilles Rubens uses the Baroque style to highlight the glory and grandeur of Marie de' Medici's landing. The painting is a cacophony of color and movement; red and gold dominate the canvas, each figure moves, and trumpets add an element of ceremonious sound. The many bodies in the image, from well-dressed noblemen to mythical sea creatures, gesticulate and writhe in Marie's direction, but she remains still and composed. When she emerges from her golden ship surrounded by her entourage, she is literally welcomed to France with open arms. Elegantly dressed in a gold-trimmed white gown, she is the very definition of royalty. Non-human witnesses to the event include a winged angel, three sea nymphs, Poseidon (god of the sea) and his son Triton,

The canvas is sharply divided by the opulent ship on the left and the classical architecture of the port of Marseille on the right, which serves as a kind of stage for the drama. The red-carpeted walkway also divides the canvas horizontally, literally representing Marie's path to her future. In addition to creating a sense of (if limited) depth, our gaze may flow across the canvas, but it always takes us back to Marie, standing statuesque amidst the chaos her announcement has induced. The rich colors and textures add to the extravagance of the momentous occasion, in particular the shimmering fabric of Marie's dress. Rubens' vision of Marie de'Medici's arrival in France is energetic and sensational, immortalizing the rather ordinary event of a ship docking in a way only he can.

Recently Viewed