Anonymous: Portrait of Elisabeth of France (1620)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

A painting to a unknown 17th century Spanish artist. The woman shown here is Elisabeth of France (1602-1644), the eldest daughter of King Henry IV of France and his second spouse Marie de' Medici and the first wife of king Philip IV of Spain. The marriage between Philip and Elisabeth was arranged in 1612 as a double marriage between France and Spain: the French Elisabeth would marry Philip while the Spanish Anna of Austria would marry the future king Louis XIII of France. Elisabeth was married with Philip by proxy in 1615 at the age of 13 and arrived in Spain when she was 18. The marriage however did nor bring everlasting peace between both countries as in 1635 war broke out between France and Spain which would last until 1659. Elisabeth was renowned for her beauty and intelligence and was popular amongst the Spanish people but her marriage was not very close. Philip had numerous mistresses and it was suspected the Elisabeth also had at least one lover (Don Juan de Tassis y Peralta, 2nd Count of Villamediana). Philip and Elisabeth did have 8 children with several miscarriages and only 1 daughter would would reach adulthood: Maria Theresa of Austria who would marry king Louis XIV of France. The painting was made when Elisabeth arrived in Spain and shows her in a grey dress which is richly decorated with dark green flowers, neck and cuffs from lace, jewelry of pearls and gold. On her chest is the "joyel rico", from which hangs the pearl "peregrina". Elisabeth died in 1644 at the age of 41, shortly after the miscarriage of a son. Painting from 1620.