Gabrielle d’Estrées, a woman known more for her risque painting than of her life itself. Gabrielle was born around 1573, and daughter of Antoine d’Estrées, Baron de Boulonnois and Françoise de la Bourdaisieres. She was one of eleven children, seven of which were girls and gave them the moniker “seven deadly sins” by the Marquis de Sevigné.
Gabrielle mingled in the court of Henri III and where she met Roger de Bellegarde who was close with Henri III and Henri IV. On the occasion that Roger was meeting with Henri IV, Gabrielle was spotted at court, and Henri was instantly obsessed. For six months he chased her and she resisted until she finally gave in.
Henri IV did not hide his relationship or the love he had for Gabrielle, even in the midst of trying to get his marriage to Marguerite de Valois annulled. To keep her close at court he orchestrated a marriage between Gabrielle and Nicolas d’Amerval on June 8, 1592. To thank him for his role, Nicolas was given the title of Baron de Benais.
Henri was eager to end the marriage with Marguerite and to marry Gabrielle and asked Pope Clement VIII to dissolve his marriage. Clement had his own ideas and wanted Henri to marry his niece, Marie de Medici, and was slow-moving on giving Henri what he wanted.
Always by his side, Gabrielle was instrumental in helping to end the many religious conflicts and converting Henri to Catholicism in 1593. However, she wasn’t loved by the people who called her the “duchess of garbage” and attacked her spending. Nonetheless, she sat next to Henri on his triumphant return to Paris later that same year. Henri had every intention to marry her and presented her with his coronation ring in front of the court.
A painting that is sure to always catch the visitor’s eye is the presumed portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and her sister the Duchess of Villars. Listen to the newest episode of Paris History Avec a Hemingway on La Vie Creative podcast for her whole story and all about the eye-catching painting.
More info and photos: https://www.claudinehemingway.com/paris-history-avec-a-hemingway-podcast-1
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