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HENRY IV. DELIBERATING UPON HIS
Hymen and Love present to the king the portrait of Mary de Medicis. Love induces him to observe the charms of the princess. France appears inviting Henry to contract an alliance, which Jupiter and Juno, seated on a throne, seem to approve. Two little Cupids, placed on the foreground of the scene, amuse themselves with the helmet and the shield of the heroic prince.
The beauty of the pencil gives peculiar grace to this poetical and pleasing composition. The figure of Henry IV. is such as to prove that Rubens could be correct when he was disposed to be so. No artist would have more ably drawn it, and given to his physiognomy greater expression. His armour is ornamented with gold, and presents bold and vigorous tones, over which is a scarf of white satin. The scarf of Hymen is also white; the drapery of Jupiter is red; that of Juno a bright yellow. The portrait of the queen is touched with much delicacy. The painter has given her a violet vest, decorated with diamonds. The tints of this portrait are softened, and represent in effect a plain surface; so that by giving to the other personages relief and life, Rubens has been able to produce the most perfect illusion. The carpations of the two Cupids have all the freshness and delicacy
suitable to their age. The drawing of the figures of Jupiter and Juno is heavy and incorrect. Rubens has, however, given to these divinities the character by which they are distinguished. The clouds which support a group, the car drawn by peacocks, and the eagle bearing thunder, are executed with a brilliant and vigorous pencil.
THE MARRIAGE OF HENRY THE FOURTH
AND MARY DE MEDICIS.
Rubens has expressed this subject by a noble and ingenious allegory. The two lovers, under the emblems of Jupiter and Juno, are borne upon clouds. Henry offers his band to his wife, whom he contemplates with affection. Mary, in a modest and almost respectful attitude, receives the testimony of a passion, which leads her to the highest honours. Hymen, crowned with flowers, his torch in his hand, points to the constellation Venus, under whose influence this union is celebrated. Several Cupids wanton around Henry IV. and the rainbow, symbol of the appoaching serenity, glitters in one part of the hea
Underneath is the City of Lyons, seated on a car, drawn by two lions; she views, with admiration, the august personages. The back-ground presents a portion of the city where the event took place.
In the execution of this picture Rubens has adopted certain principles, which he had in some sort created, to produce a grand effect. The diamonds and the veil which decorate the head of the queen, her red robe bespangled with gold and her sky-blue mantle, form, with the tones of the flesh and the scarlet drapery of the king, a prodigious mass of light, to which every thing is subordinate. The tunic of Hymen, which serves as a ground to the figures of Henry and