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The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons
Pierre Mignard

In this portrait, the recently widowed Catherine-Thérèse, Marquise de Seigneley (1662–1699) and two of her five sons are shown as characters from Greek and Roman mythology. The Marquise is probably meant to be the sea goddess Thetis, but could also be interpreted as Venus, the goddess of love, with her attributes: a scallop shell and strings of pearls. Her sons are painted as Cupid, god of love, and Achilles, a Greek hero of the Trojan war. The children gaze towards a small portrait cameo, which could be of their father, alluding to his death.

For Catherine-Thérèse’s sumptuous robe, Mignard used an expensive, high-quality ultramarine blue pigment as a show of her wealth and power. The figures are surrounded by sea and different kinds of shells, references to her husband’s profession in the French royal navy. A volcano smokes in the background.

Key facts
Artist Pierre Mignard
Artist dates 1612 - 1695
Full title The Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons
Date made 1691
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 194.5 x 154.4 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir John Murray Scott, 1914
Inventory number NG2967
Location in Gallery Room 29
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