Rubens - La Majorite
Type of Spiritual Experience
Clever political allegory resting on the iconographic tradition of the ‘ship of State’ (or France: the assimilation of the one with the other is significant for the time):
The woman in the centre represents France, she dominates the picture with her high stature and haughty physique, she has the globe in her hand. The boat is rowed by powerful oarswomen (virtues attrributed to the king: Force, Religion, Justice, Concorde).
The boat is being steered to a good port under the direction of the young monarch (Louis XIII) who holds the rudder, - a symbol of the governance left to him by his mother, the widow and regent.
Temperance, at the back, lowers the sail (implying that the wise virtues of the sovereign are more reliable than the inconsistencies of the wind - the whims of Fortune).
A description of the experience
Rubens – La Majorite
Louis listen to your mother, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times
Keep your eyes on the rudder and where you are going
My God, you’ll be the death of me son, I give you this boat
A nice present and with help too – not just four but six semi clad wenches
Just as you like them
Plump and strong and willing
And all you do is complain that you could be having
A better time at home with your friends
Huh, some friends! Gambling, swearing, drinking.
No more Louis, no more, it’s a mother’s job to look after the welfare of her only son
You need fresh air, you need more healthy pursuits
And you need me to keep an eye on you.
Don’t think I haven’t seen you sneaking down below with Temperance for a quick drink
And God knows what you’ve been up to with Religion
All I know is she keeps on whispering that she’s been saved
Saved from what?
And why does Justice keep on walking around early morning with a cane
Saying she’s going to give you a good seeing to
She can see you every day whilst she rows can’t she?
Force is no better – do you realise how silly you looked lying on your back
In the bilges saying ‘I give in, I give in’
I wish I’d never brought them really
I though they were such nice girls, always laughing and giggling
Full of – well full of what I ask myself?!
Whatever they’re full of you seem to have found it,
And we’ve hardly moved since we set off 5 days ago,
I can still see the blumin’ port Louis!
At least France seems to maintain a bit more dignity
[Why does she keep holding that wretched globe Louis’ where did she get it from?]
Anyway she looks quite good up there even if she doesn’t actually do any rowing
Nice to have a bit of dignity on board
A bit of decorum
WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING FOR GOD’S SAKE
Didn’t you see that rock.
Oh give a mother strength!
And no you can’t go down below with Concorde for a cigarette.