Mary Magdalene Reading
Old Master Paintings
|Medium, technique||oil on canvas|
92.5 x 75.5 cm
|Collection||Old Master Paintings|
|On view||Museum of Fine Arts, First Floor, European Art 1600–1700 and British Painting 1600–1800, Cabinet 1|
This likeness of a man in dark clothing, which vividly evokes the sitter’s presence using minimal artifices, is among the finest portraits produced by Philippe de Champaigne. Henri Groulart, Seigneur
de la Court, was a well-known political figure in his times, a successful diplomat, and a characteristic exponent of the noblesse de robe, the chief officers who rose to prominence in the mid-seventeenth century. As an adviser to the French Parliament, he participated in the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War to the benefit of France. The painter portrayed the diligent, agile and socially appreciated diplomat as a man of acute perception and judicious yet determined action. This is evident in the calm but expressive hand laid firmly on the ledge: this was such a distinctive motif in Champaigne’s works
that he was often called the “painter of hands”.
This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.