Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of King Louis XIII (1601-1643) 1625c.

Francis Pourbus II 

Portrait of King Louis XIII (1601-1643), Francis Pourbus II
Oil on canvas
17th Century
29 1/4 x 21 7/8 inches 74.25 x 55.5 cm
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Born in 1601 to Henry IV and Marie de Medici, the future Louis XIII grew up largely under the auspices of his distant mother. Impaired by a speech impediment, he proved to be an awkward and melancholy boy. His childhood and early adulthood have been documented in more detail than that of any previous monarch due to the painstaking observations of his physician, Jean Heroard. This portrait, painted when the King was fifteen, depicts a plump and healthy looking boy before the strains and stresses of power made him grow thin and anxious.

Louis was married in 1615 to Anne of Austria (1601 -1666) from whom he remained physically estranged until 1637. The King's heir, Louis XIV was born in the following September. Throughout his time on the throne rumours circulated about the legitimacy of both the King's son and his sexual preferences.

For much of his reign Louis deferred to his advisers to guide him politically, entrusting all affairs of state to the Duke of Luynes, after whose death in 1621 they passed into the hands of Cardinal Richelieu.

Louis XIII died in 1643 of tuberculosis, leaving the throne to his eldest son, Louis XIV who became France's best remembered king.
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