The Procession of Thessalians and Chariclea at the Triumph of Diana

The love story of Theagenes and Chariclea - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Ambroise Dubois (1543 (ca.)-1614)
Around 1610
H. 162 cm; L. 268cm
Oil on Canvas
Château de Fontainebleau, Inv 4144
First Saint-Louis Hall.

This painting is the first episode in a cycle of fifteen paintings about the lovers Theagenes and Chariclea, designed for the King’s study at the château de Fontainebleau. This epic tale, written in the 4th century by Heliodorus of Emesa, Bishop of Trikka, was translated into French and republished several times throughout the 16th century and became a best seller.

It was particularly popular with the Queen Marie de Medici. In this painting, Chariclea, daughter of the Queen of Ethiopia, and priestess of Diane at the Sanctuary of Delphi meets Theagenes, a young noble Thessalian. She is seen on her chariot, in the centre of the painting, facing the viewer while Theagenes, on his rearing horse, stands apart from the procession in the background. The scene takes place against a detailed architectural background composed of different styles of temples and columns, which resembles a theatre set.
The cycle of Theagenes and Chariclea, one of the most important works in the career of Ambroise Dubois, is also the first depiction of this story and the painter’s compositions were copied extensively. The paintings were installed in the panelled and stuccoed King’s study (now the Salon Louis XIII) where the Dauphin Louis XIII was born. While the décor was transformed under the reign of Louis XV to create four new doors, Louis-Philippe had the first episode reinstalled in the Saint-Louis room, mindful of the importance of this painting for the history of Fontainebleau.

Exhibitions
2010-2011, Château de Fontainebleau, Henry IV in Fontainebleau. A time of splendour.
1987, Château de Fontainebleau, Ambroise Dubois in Fontainebleau.

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