Was King Henry IV of France a feminist? Probably not.
But Professor Nicola Courtright is studying how the art and architecture of his royal residences—from the Louvre to Luxembourg Palace—may have elevated the status of his wife, and in the process re-envisioned gender roles in early modern ruling culture.
Courtright, the William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art, is on leave this semester in Washington, D.C., where she is a senior fellow at the National Gallery of Art, delving into archives that will inform her forthcoming book, Art and Queenly Authority: The Creation of Spaces for Marie de Medici. The book explores how Marie’s chambers, galleries and gardens, combined with artwork depicting her shared sovereignty with the king, sent an important message to the public: far from being merely the wife of the king, Marie was a leader in her own right.