The Duchess of Longueville

The Duchess of Longueville

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Title: Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon, Duchess of Estouville and Longueville.

Author : BEAUBRUN Workshop of the Brothers (1630 - 1675)

Creation date : around 1640 [?]

Date shown: around 1640 [?]

Dimensions: Height 81.5 cm - Width 66 cm

Technique and other indications: oil on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © RMN - Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Christian Jean / Jean Schormans

Picture reference: 84-000342 / MV2055

Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon, Duchess of Estouville and of Longueville.

© RMN - Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Christian Jean / Jean Schormans

Publication date: March 2016

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

A conventional portrait

This portrait is attributed to the studio of Charles and Henri Beaubrun, who distinguished themselves in the art of court portrait during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV, especially in that of the queens of France and the ladies of the nobility. . We owe in particular to Charles Beaubrun (1604-1692) portraits of Anne and Marie-Thérèse of Austria.

This work belongs to a homogeneous series of portraits of Court ladies kept at the Palace of Versailles - homogeneity due to their format, the pose of the ladies of the nobility (all seated, three-quarters to the left or the right, represented in a silk dress where white and blue often dominate, wearing a pearl necklace and earrings, dressed in mid-century fashion ...), the inscription in large golden letters indicating the qualities of the lady painted. The portrait of Princess Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon (1619-1679) is revealed as a beautifully crafted work of symmetrical composition, but without any real artistic originality.

Image Analysis

A princess of the blood

Three-quarter figure and slightly turned to the left, seated on a Louis XIII-style chair covered with red fabric, Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon appears in the prime of life. Celebrated for her beauty as much as for her wit, the princess is depicted in a rich blue dress with a wide neckline and decorated with pearls and (semi) precious stones. Her light complexion and her blond curls (highlighted by the dark color of the background), sung by her contemporaries, make her an ideal of beauty that is enhanced by a simple choker necklace. Her eyes, the painted color of which cannot distinguish turquoise blue, fixate the vagueness, referring to a dreamy attitude which can echo the noble and adventurous ideal that the princess draws from contemporary novels. She holds a bouquet of flowers in her hands, an implicit reference to her own beauty and to the transience of life.

Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon is the daughter of Henri II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, and Charlotte de Montmorency. Princess of royal blood, she combines prestige and wealth. Elder sister of Louis, prince of Condé (known as the Grand Condé), and of Armand, prince of Conti, she has a high opinion of her rank and her blood, even if she is to marry in 1642 the duke Henri de Longueville.

It is not known when this portrait was painted, although it is likely a work from the 1640s, when she frequented the most prominent hotels in Paris.


A rebellious Amazon

What this work does not reflect well is the adventurous life of Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon, which has everything of the heroic gesture celebrated in the novels of the early 17th century.e century - Madeleine de Scudéry dedicates to him elsewhere Artamenes or the Great Cyrus. It crosses the century and embraces its riches as well as its excesses. Torn between mystical influence and the worldly pleasures of salon life (she is an essential figure in the salon at the Hôtel de Rambouillet) and court life, she lived her first decades under the fires of flattery and fortune. A precocious rebel (from 1648), she never ceased to oppose with determination Cardinal Mazarin, whose power she contested and could not bear the refusal to accede to all the whims of her brother the Grand Condé. Among the first princesses of the blood to support the Parliamentary Fronde, she blends easily into the Fronde des princes (and princesses), which she fiercely defends in Paris, Normandy and then in Bordeaux, especially during the captivity of her two brothers and her husband from January 1650 to February 1651. It was also during this period that she formed a relationship with the Prince of Marcillac, future Duke of La Rochefoucauld.

Coming to lip service after 1653 - because she considers that she has only accomplished her duty - she experiences a religious period of a few years at the end of which she espouses the cause of Jansenism, after her meeting with Singlin and then with Lemaistre de Sacy. . His tireless intercession in favor of the Jansenists failed to lessen Louis XIV’s aversion to them. However, she spends herself without counting in this new fight, by acting with the king or the pope. In 1669, the peace of the Church (or clementine peace) allowed Jansenism to experience a respite which lasted until the death of the Duchess. The end of his life is obscured by the death of his youngest son and by the psychological troubles of his eldest son. Her last years were those of a great aristocrat halfway between the world and God, whom she joined on April 15, 1679.

Anne-Geneviève de Bourbon thus shows herself representative of these rebels studied by Sophie Vergnes, whose blurred image jointly combines the nobility of spirit and that of blood, the sense of intrigue and the defense of dynastic interests, the conversion and the end of an uplifting life. A worthy heir to the Bourbon-Condé and the Montmorency, she fully belongs to this "nobility in freedom" (Jean-Marie Constant) which does not adapt well to the assertion of absolutism.

  • Sling
  • court life
  • Louis XIV
  • women
  • Grand Condé


BÉGUIN Katia, The Princes of Condé: rebels, courtiers and patrons in Grand Siècle France, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, coll. "Epochs", 1999.CONSTANT Jean-Marie, The Mad Freedom of the Baroque (1600-1661), Paris, Perrin, coll. "For History", 2007.LEBIGRE Arlette, The Duchess of Longueville, Paris, Perrin, 2004.VERGNES Sophie, The Frondeuses: a feminine revolt (1643-1661), Seyssel, Champ Vallon, coll. “Epochs”, 2013.

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "The Duchess of Longueville"

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