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Poliphile devant la reine Eleuthérilide

Eustache Le Sueur

(1616 - 1655) | 867.3.1

Date : 1636-1645 | Medium : Oil on canvas

The subject of this painting is drawn from a romance by the Venetian Dominican monk Francesco Colonna entitled Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Polipholo's Strife of Love in a Dream), published in 1499 and translated into French in 1546. It tells the story of the dreams of Polipholo and his amorous adventure with his beloved Polia. Here Polipholo comes to pay homage to Queen Eleutherilide in the presence of her female courtiers. This composition forms part of a cycle of seven paintings for tapestry originally commissioned from Simon Vouet, who passed the work on to Eustache Le Sueur for reasons that remain unknown.

The picture boasts an astonishingly eclectic style: the elegant, mannerist positions of the ladies around the throne recall the art of Fontainebleau, while the extreme symmetry and clarity of the composition with a single vanishing point demonstrates an effort at simplification along the lines of the art of Nicolas Poussin.

Dating from between 1636 and 1645, this work is a fine example of the rapid evolution experienced by many Parisian painters including Eustache Le Sueur, Jacques Stella, Sébastien Bourdon and even Simon Vouet at the end of the 1630s and start of the 1640s, leading them towards a more sober, more classical style that followed the example of Nicolas Poussin, who spent time in Paris between 1640 and 1642.