PARIS, 1361. LOUVRE.
Sully wing, 2nd floor:
Paintings / France / 1600-1700.
Georges de La Tour, room 912.
Louis Le Nain, Allégorie de la Victoire (1635 c.), 151 x 115 cm.
Ph Daniele Cenci, 17-27/08/2018.
PASSEGGIATE INTERNAZIONALI 11.
Unique and totally unexpected in the Le Nain brothers' oeuvre, this strange painting came to light at the Château de Cheneviery, near Montargis. It would seem, from its size and subject matter, to have been intended for hanging over a fireplace. X-ray examination has revealed a Holy Family beneath the present work, blanked out because it had failed to please its creator or his client, or simply because the client had changed his mind. In this case the effaced painting ran widthwise, and the painter has reused the canvas by standing it on its end.
Helmeted, wings spread and her modesty preserved by folds of red fabric, a naked, generously sensual woman stands victorious on a prone, more or less female body whose feet are replaced by the coils of a serpent. One hand holding a palm branch and the other raised to her breast, she contemplates her strange captive. She symbolizes victory, but over whom? The allegorical figure at her feet has variously been interpreted as Deceit, Intrigue or Rebellion, vices vigorously opposed by right-thinking people of the time. The composition is enlivened by the way the skillful interplay of obliques in the sky counters the slightly too-strict geometry of the scene. The naked woman stands triumphantly centre-stage against a background containing, on the right, a few tiny figures.