• The Magnanimity of Alexander the Great

    Artist:
    Mignard, Pierre. 1612-1695
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    298x451 cm

Mignard, Pierre. 1612-1695

The Magnanimity of Alexander the Great

France, 1689

This work belongs to the time when Pierre Mignard, a French painter of the academic tendency from the time of Louis XIV, was at the height of his fame and success. The Sun-King personally elevated the artist to the French nobility. Mignard was one step from being appointed chief court artist, director of the royal art museums and manufactories. The following year he would become head of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. By that moment, Mignard was approaching 80 years of age, yet he continued to work intensively: he painted the ceilings in the King’s small apartments in Versailles, produced a splendid series of paintings on biblical subjects and came up with designs (now in the Louvre) for murals in the St Louis des Invalides Cathedral in Paris. Pierre Mignard was always drawn to historical subjects. Such compositions in particular provided inexhaustible opportunities for the visual embodiment of the canons of the “Grand Style” that was a mix of Classicism and the Baroque and, in broad terms, was inherent in the whole of French 17th-century art, in all its forms and genres. The subjects and allegorical subtext of Mignard’s depiction of The Magnanimity of Alexander the Great is obvious: the Macedonian conqueror, dressed in armour with a red cloak and red-plumed helmet is extending his hand to the mother of King Darius who kneels before him. Standing alongside is Hephaestion, also in armour, with a blue cloak and blue-plumed helmet. Red and blue were the colours of the King and the Marshal of France respectively. In 1688–89, when France was ramping up its offensive policy in Europe, the new victories of the French army and the idea of extolling the might of Louis XIV found expression in this striking programmatic picture.

Title:

The Magnanimity of Alexander the Great

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

298x451 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1792; originally in the collection of Prince G.A.Potemkin-Tavricheski in St Petersburg

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1233

Category:

Collection:

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