Political benefit and the role of art at the court of Philip VI of Valois (1328-1350)



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This dissertation examines the political benefit derived from visual images produced at the court of the first king of a new dynasty in France. Philip VI of Valois (1328-1350) came to the throne of France after his three first cousins, the last kings of the direct Capetian line, each died without a male heir. Philip, who had a contemporary reputation as a patron of the luxurious arts, has been treated traditionally as a patron of little merit in most major art historical studies of fourteenth-century patronage. Yet several works of art were created at the court of Philip VI that served as visual confirmation of the Valois right to the throne. The Arbor Genealogie Regum Francorum of Bernard Gui (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10126), a mural painting from the Charterhouse of Bourgfontaine, the Grandes chroniques de France (London, British Library, Royal 16 G VI), and a panel painting from the Sainte-Chapelle are considered in this study to be integral parts of a metanarrative of dynastic validation that informed all aspects of Philip’s reign. By analyzing these works through a broad concept of art patronage that emphasizes received advantage over intended agency, I will show that a “beneficial” visual program of dynastic confirmation existed at the first Valois court.