Nicola Courtright

Nicola Courtright

Robert Lehman Visiting Professor
A book on the residences created for Marie de Médicis
(September-December)

Biography

Nicola Courtright is William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art at Amherst College. Her publications span a range of areas within early modern Europe, including the art and architecture of the Vatican Palace, the subject of her 2003 book, The Papacy and the Art of Reform in Sixteenth-Century Rome: Gregory XIII and the Tower of the Winds in the Vatican; Bernini sculpture; Louis XIV’s bedroom in Versailles; and Rembrandt drawings. She is past president of the College Art Association and recent editor-in-chief of Grove Art Online, and is currently vice chair of the American Council of Learned Societies. 

Project Summary

This book project, Art and Queenly Authority: The Creation of Spaces for Marie de Médicis, suggests a new approach for interpreting the spaces that Marie de Médicis inhabited as queen, queen regent, and dowager queen. It investigates the art and architecture developed for the Medici consort by analyzing the typology and functions of apartments, galleries and gardens from the Louvre and royal chateau at Fontainebleau to the widow’s Luxembourg Palace. Inaugurated under Henry IV and inflected by Florentine models, the early spaces intended to make a queen’s place in the monarchic structure unusually visible. Later commissions continued to display a powerful picture of the queen’s partnership and shared sovereignty with the king. The book’s interpretation of these spaces and their functions disputes the familiar narrative that French politics and art were dedicated to shaping the image of the singular, absolute power of the king, and re-casts the definition of gender in early modern ruling culture.