«Reali heroine» Ritratti equestri di sovrane e dame per le residenze ducali

Journal title CHEIRON
Author/s Clara Goria
Publishing Year 2023 Issue 2022/1-2 Language Italian
Pages 27 P. 267-293 File size 1181 KB
DOI 10.3280/CHE2022-001015
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The 17th-century fortune of female equestrian portraits underwent a particular development at the Savoy court. Between the 1650s and 1670s, several works renewed the dukes’ long-standing predilection for the equestrian portrait, celebratory of dynastic history and the high-est expression of royalty. In this context, the series of large double por-traits on canvas for the Hall of Diana at the Reggia di Venaria (1657-1665) is a crucial gateway. Painted by the major artists active at court, including the Flemish Jan Miel, Roman by adoption, and Charles Dau-phin from Lorraine, trained in Paris, they portray the ducal family’s hunting parade, where duchesses, princesses and ladies of honour make up a cavalcade of huntresses and amazons, contemporary hero-ines and femmes fortes. It is an image of female power which emerges here, linked particularly to the Madame reali, Christine of France and Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy Nemours, who held the role of regents. The protagonists of the series advance on horseback at a trot and per-form the complex manoeuvre of the levade, which was mostly a pre-rogative of male portraits, thus placing the Venaria representations among the rare female declinations of this typology in the European courts of the time. In order to understand the specificities and new out-comes of this significant fortune, I return here to the works, contexts and patronage in a critical period of transition of power, retracing choices of style, models and iconography in relation to the codes of portraiture and the experiences and practices in use at court. From the surviving canvases of the series at the Venaria Reale to the portraits preserved in other residences, which are closely related to each other, an overall reading is traced, with a particular attention to the paintings in the Castello di Racconigi, reviewing the identification of the enigmatic princesses on horseback.

Keywords: Equestrian portrait; Madame reali; Ladies of honour; Ama-zons; Charles Dauphin; Jan Miel.

Clara Goria, «Reali heroine» Ritratti equestri di sovrane e dame per le residenze ducali in "CHEIRON" 1-2/2022, pp 267-293, DOI: 10.3280/CHE2022-001015