Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
Portraits of the Marquise de Maintenon by Louis Ferdinand Elle II and Pierre Mignard are frequently reproduced in the various factual and fictional biographies of Maintenon, but have only been significantly mentioned by art historians in broader studies of the period or in comparison to other portraits. In this thesis, these portraits will be significantly and singularly addressed in a larger study of Maintenon as patron. Both portraits have connections to events occurring in the life of Maintenon at the time of their creation and can be clearly understood as representations of her intended public identity. In addition, each seems to have an interesting relationship to both negative contemporary criticism of Maintenon and to her subsequent legacy. The chapters are ordered chronologically and each involves a discussion of the meaningful visual elements in each portrait. As the earliest portrait that can be firmly considered part of Maintenon's constructed public identity, Louis Elle's Marquise de Maintenon and her Niece is the focus of the first chapter. An analysis of the many possible layers of meaning within this portrait is discussed in relation to Maintenon's complicated legacy. The second chapter centers upon revealing the original function of Mignard's Marquise de Maintenon as St. Frances of Rome and its relationship to the controversy involving Quietism with which Maintenon was involved at the time of the portrait's creation. In the final chapter, the way in which these portraits influence Maintenon's legacy is analyzed. Finally, in the conclusion, the obstacles involved in the study of representations of Maintenon are discussed and suggestions are made of issues requiring further study.
Copyright 2012 Ashley Marie Mason