Sully kneeling before Henry IV

Henry IV raising Sully - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Alexandre-Louis Millin du Perreux (1764-1843)
1819
H. 220 cm; L. 312 cm
Oil on canvas
Château de Fontainebleau, Inv 6707
Gallery of Splendours.

This painting depicts the reconciliation of King Henry IV with his Minister Sully after a brief quarrel on the Mulberry tree path in the park at the château de Fontainebleau.

This topic became popular in the 18th century and became the subject of paintings and plays and even clocks and tapestries. Sully was considered to be the perfect statesman, and the image of him kneeling at Fontainebleau was very popular in the early the 19th century.

The work is part of a large commission for twenty-four paintings, placed in 1817 by Louis XVIII to decorate the Diana Gallery at the château de Fontainebleau. Formerly the Queen’s Gallery, created under Henri IV and decorated by the painter Ambroise Dubois, this gallery had, since the end of the Ancien Régime, already been given an extensive makeover. Louis XVIII wanted to make it a gallery of national history. The instructions given to the artists were therefore quite specific. Each work had to illustrate an episode in the history of France. In addition, paramount importance should be given to the landscape or décor surrounding the scene. Trained in historic landscape painting by Huet and de Valenciennes, Alexandre Millin du Perreux was already very popular under the Empire and here produced a painting that is perfectly suited to the décor of the Diana Gallery. The reflections of the château’s façades and the pavilion in the water of the pond also demonstrate his dexterity in landscape painting while a late afternoon sun illuminates the king helping his minister to get up.

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