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2017 Orsay: Jean-Paul Laurens 1875 L’excommunication de Robert le Pieux

Jean-Paul Laurens: The Excommunication of Robert the Pious, 1875

Jean-Paul Laurens: The Excommunication of Robert the Pious, 1875.
Every once in a while there’s a crav­ing for some grand his­tor­icist rag. Robert had mar­ried his second-degree cous­in Berthe of Burgundy. The Pope objec­ted on grounds of con­san­guin­ity (a pre­tense for more pro­found polit­ic­al reas­ons), first asked Robert nicely to get rid of Berthe and then, not being gran­ted that wish, excom­mu­nic­ated him. While after the offi­cial sep­ar­a­tion the ban was lif­ted, the couple stayed togeth­er in spite of Robert’s next, church-approved mar­riage a few years later.
The paint­ing, I think, does a great job at pick­ing an uncom­mon moment for its depic­tion: The after­wards. the dam­age done. Symbolism (the extin­guished candle etc.) aside, there’s one irrel­ev­ant detail I love: The smudges on the wall above the sit­ting pil­lows.