Flora - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Anonymous (according to Ambroise Dubois, 1543 (ca.) – 1614
17th century
H. 172 cm;L. 130 cm
Oil on canvas
Fontainebleau, National Museum of the Château, RF 1964.29
Gallery of Splendours.

A painter of Flemish origin, probably trained under Frans Floris amidst the Antwerp mannerists, Ambroise Dubois was active in Fontainebleau during the reign of Henri IV. Although he became famous for the great literary works that he rendered as paintings, such as Tancred and Clorinda or Theagenes and Chariclea, he also produced independent compositions, often featuring graceful female figures. Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring is depicted holding a vase of flowers, surrounded by laughing putti, in front of view overlooking a garden ending in a pavilion. Her bare breast and the white draped cloth revealing the lines of her leg are characteristic of the painters of the Second School of Fontainebleau’s penchant for the female body. The pearly flesh as well as the affected attitude and the delicacy of the floral compositions testify to Ambroise Dubois’ craft.

This painting, however, is one of many copies of this work. The original painting is mentioned by Father Dan in 1642 as a ‘very beautiful painting’, displayed above the fireplace in the King’s Chamber in the castle (now the Throne Room). It was during the reign of Louis XIV that the Flora was replaced by a portrait of Louis XIII by Philippe de Champaigne.

1998, Château de Fontainebleau, Painters For a Castle. Fifty paintings (16th – 19th century) from the collections at the Château de Fontainebleau.
1987, Château de Fontainebleau, Ambroise Dubois in Fontainebleau.

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