Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim , Jean Fouquet (Melun Diptych)


Jean Fouquet was commissioned to paint the Madonna Surrounded by Seraphim and Cherubim as one half of a diptych by Etienne Chevalier, treasurer to France’s King Charles VII.
The right panel (this print) depicts a strange scene which is equal parts fantastic and bizarre – and not just because of the freakishly charming seraphim and cherubim surrounding Mary or the man-toddler that is baby Jesus. Jean Fouquet broke with tradition in several ways here. His use of intense color is one but the most striking is his depiction of the Virgin Mary and the woman who served as his model. Now, it’s definitely not an issue that Mary is shown as the Queen of Heaven, as evidenced by her jewel-encrusted crown, throne, and dress. What’s bizarre is that half her chest is exposed, creating quite a sensual, erotic image of a traditionally chaste figure. Imagine the shock this must have given viewers in the 15th century! Said scandal was probably not helped by the fact that Fouquet’s model was likely the king’s mistress, Agnes Sorel.

Sorel’s beauty made quite an impression on the king, which, unsurprisingly, lead her to become his mistress. In this strange painting, Fouquet has captured that beauty, from the way her fashion-forward dress accentuates her body to her porcelain skin, and her demure gaze, she embodies ideal beauty. According to legend, Sorel’s bosom was quite eye-catching. Not to compare apples to oranges, but they are quite askew in both placement and size in the portrait. That factor might make you wonder what the men in the left panel are really looking at.

Sorel was actually more than a mistress who happened to bear the King several children. She was also one of his trusted counselors. During an ill-fated war, Sorel used her charm to gain the financial backing of the wealthy nobles, which in turn aided France in securing its borders. To thank her, Charles made her three children legitimate and promoted her to be his official mistress. In fact, she was the first mistress to be given this title. Said title came with many benefits, including a salary, private chambers, and a substantial place at court. As you could imagine, church officials as well as the King’s own son weren’t thrilled about this. Alas, the pregnant Agnes dropped dead not long after, likely due to mercury poisoning.
Available as a fine art print and as a stretched canvas panel (heavy fine art canvas stretched over 1.5 inch deep edge solid wood frame).

All prints are made using archival art stocks and UV pigment inks to give up to 200 years life. Prints are sold unframed and unmounted.



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Size and Printed Materials

Fine art papers are printed without any additional white border Please let us know at the time of ordering if you would like a small additional white border.

Rolled canvas options have an additional white border of approximately 2.5 inches (7cm) on all 4 sides to aid stretching.

Ready to hang canvas panels are stretched on 1.5 inch deep solid pine frames from sustainable forestry sources. The image is mirrored on all 4 sides to give an aesthetically pleasing finish.

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