Images of the past

A chronologue of beauty

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Allegorical Portraits

First portraits of contemporary people started off as something of allegories as often painters would put the faces of their patrons on the bodies of the saints that they were commissioned to portray,so called donor portraits.Later on portraiture took off allegorical portraits remained popular as it allowed artists to portray their subjects in roles,and fantastical robes,normally restricted in everyday lives.It gave the sitter attributes of Greek Goddesses,Muses,Nymphs and set them in rustic,pastoral scenes where they could pretend to be free roaming shepherdesses,gardeners and of course wearing highly idealized attire.Ladies would be able to show off far more leg,or a breast,than what would be considered decent if she wasn't in a guise of a Minerva,Flora or Cleopatra.Kings could show their might by dressing up as their favorite deity as Louis XIV did many times.His cousin Marie Anne d'Orleans La Grande Mademoiselle,who commanded soldiers in the great Fronde against him,portrayed herself many times as Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom.Actresses chose their favorite muse,particularly pious ladies dressed up as their favorite Saint and royal mistresses took liberty to show off their beautiful bodies in the guise of Venus,something which would've been scandalous had she not been in the guise of the venerable Goddess of Love.

                                      Louise of Savoy as Sibylla Agrippa,1430 Jacques Daret

Portrait of Catherina Sforza as St.Catherine,c.1475 by Sandro Boticelli

Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Cleopatra,1480 Piero di Cosimo

Simonetta Vespucci as Maria Lactans,c.1480 Sandro Botticelli

Portrait of a young woman as an allegory warning of foolishness and false love,1485-1500,attr. to the Master of Portraits of Princes

Lucas Paumgartner as St. Eustace,1503 Albrecht Dürer

Portrait of a Saxon noblewoman as Mary Magdalene,1525 Lucas Cranach the Elder

Portrait of a Lady as St. Cecilia by circle of Ambrosius Benson,1530s

Francois I of France as Mars,c. 1545

Portrait of a woman as Cleopatra,16th c

Gabrielle d'Estrees as Diana the Huntress,1590 Ambroise Dubois

                                         Gabrielle d'Estrees as Diana the Huntress,detail

Portrait of a Young Woman as Portia Catonis,c. 1600 by Santi di Tito

Portrait of a young Girl as Flora,1620s Cornelis van Poelenburch

Portrait of a Lady as Spring,c. 1620 follower of Abraham Janssens 
Portrait of a Lady as Saint Catherine,c.1630 Claude Deruet
Saskia as Flora,1636 Rembrandt

Duchesse de Monatusier as a Shepherdess,1630 Claude Duret

Marie Charlotte de La Tremoille,Duchess of Saxe Iena as Geometry,1630

Marie de Rohan,Duchesse de Chevreuse as Diana the Huntress,c.1630 Claude Deruet

Portrait of a young girl as Diana,c. 1630 by Govaert Flinck 

Portrait of a Lady as a Shepherdess,c. 1630 Claude Deruet 
                        Portrait of a Lady as Diana,c. 1635 Henri Beaubrun or Claude Deruet
Christine Marie de France,Duchesse de Savoie as Minerva with her son  Francesco Hyacinte

Marie Christine de France as Minerva,c. 1640 Charles Dauphin

Portrait of a woman as Diana,1640s Ferdinad Bol

Young Lady as Diana,c.1640 Joseph Werner the Elder

Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans Grande Mademoiselle as Minerva,c.1640

Young Louis XIV as Jupiter,c.1645 

Henriette von Nassau as Diana,c.1640 Willem van Honthorst

Lady as Diana,c.1650 Jan van Mijtens

Two Ladies as Shepherdesses,c. 1650 Gerard van Honthorst
Anne Marie d'Orleans La Grande Mademoiselle as Minerva,c.1650

Portrait of a lady as Diana by Charles Beaubrun c.1650

Lady as Minerva,c. 1650 Charles Beaubrun

 Laura Mancini as Minerva,1650s

Marie Anne Mancini as Diana the Huntress,1654 Juste d'Egmont

Portrait of Molliere as Julius Cesar,1658 Mignard

Portrait of a Lady as Mary Magdalene,c.1660 circle of Ferdinand Bol

Margaret Yolande of Savoy,Duchess of Parma as Minerva,c.1660

Portrait of a boy as Cupid,1660 Nicoales Maes

Marie Therese,Queen of France as  as patron of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris,
c.1660 Charles Beaubrun
Lady as Diana the Huntress,c. 1660 Jacob Huysmans

Portrait of Vincenzo Ferdinando Ranuzzi as Amor,1663 Elisabetta Sirani

Anne Crane Lady Belasyse as a Shepherdess,c.1660
William III as Mars,1668 Jan de Baen
Madame Lagley as Minerva,c.1660 Mignard 

Henriette Anne d'Orleans as Minerva,c.1660

Honorine d’Ursel by Justus van Egmont,c.1665-70

Claudia Felicitas of Austria as Diana,1666 Giovanni Maria Morandi

Louise de la Valliere as St. Helena by a follower of Abraham Janssens,c. 1660s

Henriette Adelaide of Savoy,Electress of Bavaria in armour,1670

Lisolotte von der Pfaltz as Diana,1670

Portrait of Victoria della Rovere as St. Vittoria,1673 Mario Ballasi

James Duke of York as Mars,1673 Sir Peter Lely

Portrait of a girl as a Shepherdess,1670 Karel Skreta

Portrait of a boy as St.George,c.1670 Karel Skreta

Portrait of Mue Mertain as Minerva,c.1670s Mignard

Frances Theresa Stuart,Duchess of Richmond as Minerva,1675 Henri Gascar
Portrait of a Lady as Minerva, 1679 by Joseph Wright 

Elisabeth Charlotte d'Orleans as Diana,c.1680

La Grande Mademoiselle as Athena,c.1680

Elizabeth Washington,Lady Ferrers as Minerva after Michael Wright, 1670s

Portrait of a young Lady as Flora,1685-90 Jan van Haesbergen

Anna Maria Luisa de Medici as Minerva by Jan Frans van Douven,c. 1700

Portrait of a noblewoman as Cleopatra,c. 1700 Pierre Gobert

Marquise de Gueydan as Hebe,1730 Largilliere

Portrait of a Woman as Minerva by Jean Raoux,1730

Charles William Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach dressed as shepherd,c.1740

 Portrait of a Lady as a Shepherdess by an unknown British artist,1740-55
Portrait of Madame Henriette de France as a Vestal Virgin,1749 Nattier

Duchesse de la Rochefoucauld as Hebe,c.1750 Jean-Marc Nattier

Madame Boucher as a Shepherdess,c.1760 Studio of Boucher

Elizabeth Cust,Mrs Yorke as a Shepherdess,1760s Francis Cotes

Medallion with a Portrait of Catherine the Great of Russia as Minerva,1762

Lady Anne Dawson as Diana,1763 Joshua Reynolds

Anne Dashwood,Countess Galloway as a Shepherdess,1764 Reynolds

Luise Henriette Wilhelmine von Anhalt-Dessau as Diana,1765 Charles van Loo

Madame Berger as La Belle Jardiniere,1766 Boucher

Sarah Harrop as a Muse,1780-81 Angelica Kauffman

Louise Henrietta Campbell,Lady Scarlett as the Muse of Literature by 
Angelica Kauffman,1780s

Portrait of I. J. Jakimov as Amur,c.1790 Argunov

                   Duchesse de Choiseul as La Belle Jardiniere,c.1790 Jeanne Philliberte Ledoux
Portrait of a Caroline Anne Brudedenell as a shepherdess,c.1790 Mary Hoare     
Lady Loft as Hebe,c.1790 Hugh Douglas Hamilton

Portrait Of Mademoiselle Guimard As Terpsichore,1799 Jacques-Louis David

Portrait of the Marquise d'Hervey Saint-Denys by Raimundo Madrazo,1885


  1. Amazing collection! Thank you

  2. Hi, do you have some more info about "Ludwika Maria Gonzaga as Diana,c.1650" (author, collection, dimensions)?, where did you found this reproduction, is it correct attribution (Marie Louise Gonzaga, Queen of Poland)? Thanks

    1. I'm sorry i have made a mistake in the title it's actually an unknown lady by Beaubrun,it's been fixed now!