The Court Historian has published in its December 2015 issue an article entitled, “House Left, House Right: A Florentine Account of Marie de Medici’s 1615 Ballet de Madame.” The article was written by Dr. Sheila Barker, Director of MAP’s Jane Fortune Program on Women Artists, with Tessa Gurney (Samuel H. Kress Fellow at the Medici Archive Project, Fall 2013).
One of the costliest ephemeral diversions of the French court, court ballet provoked public curiosity across Europe. The publication of lyrics, plot summaries and engravings derived from the court ballet enabled aspects of these spectacles to be appreciated abroad. Serving the same purpose but much rarer are extensive eyewitness accounts. One such account, provided by an agent of the Medici court who attended the lavishly produced Ballet de Madame in Paris, 1615, records the author’s own reaction to this multi-sensory experience, the behavior of the other spectators (particularly the foreign ambassadors), and the events that occurred in the vicinity of the ballet. In doing so, it reveals as much about the marvels of the ballet as it does about the political preoccupations of Marie de Medici and her contemporaries.