The Work

Vincent Voiture (1597-1648) was a poet who was greatly admired by the members of the French court.  Champaigne made this portrait during the poet’s lifetime.  An engraving of this portrait accompanied the publication in 1650 of a book of his poems, after his death.  A few years later, Voiture’s daughter Madeleine entered a convent to become a nun.  She wanted to keep her father’s portrait with her.  However, because she was allowed to keep only artworks with religious subjects, Champaigne retouched the painting to add a royal crown and robes, a scepter, and Christ’s crown of thorns, a relic associated with Saint Louis.  In this way, Madeleine was able to keep her father’s portrait with her, under the identity of the saint.

French embassy