La Grande Mademoiselle

La Grande Mademoiselle

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Title: Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier

Author : BOURGUIGNON Pierre (1630 - 1698)

Creation date : 1672

Dimensions: Height 175 cm - Width 148 cm

Technique and other indications: Called "La Grande Mademoiselle", represented in Minerva, protector of the Arts and presenting the medallion portrait of her father Gaston de France, Duke of Orléans (1608-1660) around 1672.

Storage place: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot / Christian Jean

Picture reference: 84-001222 / MV3504

Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier

© RMN-Grand Palais (Palace of Versailles) / Gérard Blot / Christian Jean

Publication date: March 2018

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

An allegorical portrait

The portraits of Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier, known as the Grande Mademoiselle, are numerous and the painters who engaged in the exercise are among the most popular portrait painters at court (Jean Nocret, Louis -Ferdinand Elle, Pierre Mignard, workshop of the Beaubrun brothers). Active in Paris from 1671 until the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, Pierre Bourguignon made a portrait of the princess as an ancient deity in the early 1670s to capture the salient features of his model, thus yielding to the fashion of the allegorical portrait so well illustrated by the canvas by Jean Nocret representing in 1670 the royal family in " mythological transvestites ”. Camped in Diane-Lune, the Grande Mademoiselle also occupied within this vast composition a place of choice with the king-Apollo-Sun.

Pierre Bourguignon refocuses attention on the Grande Mademoiselle and on her parentage, using recurring motifs in the iconology specific to the princess, namely the addition of the oval portrait of her father Gaston d'Orléans at the heart of the canvas and the carrying of arms. Classically designed, the work gives pride of place to drapery and allegorical disguise.

Image Analysis

Princess Minerva, patron of the arts

The figure of the Grande Mademoiselle stands out against the background of a heavy blue fleur-de-lis hanging in gold. Anne-Marie-Louise d´Orléans is here disguised as Minerva, goddess of war but also of cunning, wisdom and the arts. She wears a plumed helmet completed by a breastplate covered with an orange cape that wraps her to the feet. Seated majestically, she gazes beyond the scope of the composition, into an elsewhere populated by unfulfilled dreams of grandeur. The shield with Medusa's arms and the spear are the warlike counterpart of the accessories linked to the arts negligently placed on the ground: on the left, musical instruments (it is the Grande Mademoiselle who introduced Lully to the court), on the right, books and a geometric measuring instrument in front of an antique bas-relief representing The Union of Painting and Sculpture produced by Jacques Buirette in 1663 for its reception at the Academy.

With her right hand, she holds up an oval portrait of her father Gaston d´Orléans, son of Henri IV and turbulent younger brother of Louis XIII. The prince is painted in the prime of his life, at a time when it was his specialty to participate in plots hatched against Cardinal Richelieu (1620s and 1630s in particular). Its representation in armor makes it a double of the warlike virtues of the Grande Mademoiselle. It is a question of registering the Princess of Montpensier in a filiation by blood and by the values ​​defended - the mad freedom of the Baroque described by Jean-Marie Constant and which the Fronde gave the opportunity to experience to the Grande Mademoiselle.


A granddaughter from France

Born in 1627, Anne-Marie-Louise d´Orléans is aware and imbued with her birth. Granddaughter of Henri IV, daughter of Monsieur (Gaston d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIII) and first cousin of Louis XIV, immensely rich and titled heiress (the wealthiest in the kingdom, even in Europe, it was said) , she enjoys an unusual freedom in France during the Grand Siècle. Strong and independent woman with a romantic destiny, she asserted her authority while failing to anchor her own existence in a dynastic continuity since she died in 1693 without posterity. The portrait of Pierre Bourguignon says it all at the same time: attachment to the blood of France turned to the past and the attributes of an inaccessible majesty (war and patronage). The life of Mademoiselle de Montpensier is in many respects exceptional, as revealed by the titles specially created for her (granddaughter of France, Grande Mademoiselle), and of a heroic gesture made obsolete by the royal capture glory under the reign of his cousin Louis XIV. Minerva armed in her portraits of the 1660s and the beginning of the 1670s, she is Diana turned towards the king and dependent on the light radiated by the sovereign in the canvas of Nocret already mentioned.

Powerless to obtain the king's hand, she had indeed invested body and soul in the Fronde until she supported the Prince of Conde in his battle against the royal power through the ordeal of fire. Her engagement led to her exile, imposed by Louis XIV until 1657. From that date, she led an active curial life and showed a strong attraction for the arts. His portraits can be understood as an undertaking to re-legitimize his place at court. She undertakes otherwise to write his Briefs, which remain an appreciable testimony of court life in the 17th centurye century. Her unhappy late affair (at more than forty years old) with the Duke of Lauzun led to her conversion: the Grande Mademoiselle spent her last years confited in devotion. Sophie Vergnes sums up her life as follows: "Monsieur's daughter therefore paid the price for her loneliness for her wealth and her spirit of insubordination. She did not know how to reconcile her ambitions with the realities of her feminine condition but she always refused that others dictate her destiny and knew how to preserve even in the humiliation of defeat her spirit of independence, thus remaining a rebellious until after the Fronde. "

  • portrait
  • Louis XIV
  • antique
  • allegory
  • Henry IV
  • Louis XIII
  • Sling
  • Grande Mademoiselle
  • Orleans (Gaston d ')


CONSTANT Jean-Marie, The mad freedom of the baroque 1600-1661, Perrin, Paris, 2007.

VERGNES Sophie, The slingers. A female revolt (1643-1661), Champ Vallon, Seyssel, 2013.

Memories of the Great Mademoiselle, Mercure de France, 2005.

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "La Grande Mademoiselle"

Video: Secrets dHistoire -La Grande Mademoiselle, une rebelle sous Louis XIV - La galerie de Guise