While the drawback about the Louvre is that it’s so big, the best thing about the Louvre is that it’s so big. Since it used to be a palace, it has nooks and crannies that make the presentation of art very interesting. Grams likes this aspect of the Louvre the best. It was in one such little nook that she found this painting of King Henri IV.
Now, her appreciation of this painting goes a long way to understanding the Grams. We turned a corner in the Richelieu section of the Louvre and there was ol’ Hank himself. “Look, he’s in his knickers!” sputtered Grams.
I have to admit that he does look as if he’s in his knickers, but he’s actually making a political statement. It was painted by Toussaint Dubreuil around 1600. If you look close, Henri has his left foot firmly planted on the neck(s) of a many-headed hydra. Henri is supposed to be a 16th century Hercules. The hydra represents the Catholic League.
What did Henri have against the Catholic League? That’s a juicy story. Henri had been the King of Navarre. He was also the leader of the Huguenots (they were the Protestants). Can you see where this is going? Henri married Marguerite de Valois, a good Protestant. Then, there was a massacre on St. Bartholomew’s Day. It was organized by the Catholic King and his army and they attacked unarmed Protestant citizens.
Henri, putting his finger to the wind, decided that he could be Catholic again. Henri was a rather pragmatic fellow, which helped him stay alive in the late 1500s. Once he got away from the French court and back to Navarre, however, Henri decided that he was Protestant yet again.
Needless to say, when King Henri III of France named our Henri as his heir presumptive, the Catholic Church and aristocracy didn’t take too well to the idea. Naturally, there was a war. Henri defeated the Catholic League and succeeded as king when Henri III went on to his reward. When Henri was barred from entering Paris until he gave up being a Protestant, that’s exactly what he did again saying, "Paris is well worth a Mass”
Henri encouraged religious tolerance, promised a “chicken in every pot every Sunday,” and (after having his first marriage annulled) married Marie di Medici (a good Catholic girl with plenty of Medici moola in her dowry). He also oversaw an explosion in ideas and the beginning of a mass media spreading those ideas. Some of those notions would later be the genesis of the French Revolution. Wotta guy! So, that’s why Henri is standing around in his knickers.
A la prochaine. Moochas smoochas,
Please give what you can to Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).
Happy Valentine's Day Bronwyn! Be my Valentine.