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Rubens’s oil sketches have long been prized for their technical brilliance and originality. This is one of three modelli in The Wallace Collection relating to Rubens’s intended cycle illustrating the ‘Life of Henri IV’. Commissioned in 1622 by the King’s widow, Marie de Médicis, the series was intended to complement the famous Medici Cycle, commemorating the ‘life and heroic acts’ of the Queen, but was never executed, making the surviving sketches all the more precious. ‘The Union of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis’ depicts the pacification of the warrior Henri IV by Marie de Médicis. The couple were married by proxy in Florence on 5 October 1600, when Rubens was present in the train of the Duke of Mantua. Here the King holds an olive branch, the symbol of peace, and his half armour and amorous glance indicate his emotional submission to his new wife.

The Wallace Collection





oil on oak panel


H 23 x W 12.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1859; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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