Here is another wonderful painting by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, whose work I have come to greatly admire. Recently I showcased his 1882 picture The Tulip Folly and an earlier (1872) view of ancient Rome, Pollice Verso. Here is another historic picture by him, painted in 1878. It’s called Réception du Grand Condé à Versailles (“Reception of Grand Condé at Versailles”) and as you can see it’s every bit as magnificent as the previous paintings I’ve showed you.
This picture does depict a real scene. The Prince of Condé, Louis de Bourbon, was an important noble and military leader during the reign of Louis XIV, the “Sun King” who built the palace of Versailles (a room in which I also featured recently). He gained prominence and experience during the Thirty Years War of the mid-17th century. After the war was over a series of very confusing intrigues wracked France and indeed much of Europe. During this period the Prince switched allegiances, for a time turning against the King, but after the Battle of Seneffe (1674) Condé came back into the fold. This painting depicts his return to Versailles and his genuflection to the authority of Louis XIV, who is pictured in gold at the center. I confess I don’t really understand all the complicated intrigues that led up to this moment, but it’s definitely an awesome picture, perfectly displaying the ostentation, garish wealth and almost obscene power of the French crown in the late 1600s.
I do not know what museum the original is held in, or if it’s in a private collection. If anyone knows, put it in the comments below.