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A group of figures stands on a stone platform above a crowd surrounded by a stone wall.

On a stone platform, several light-skinned adults and children stand looking down into a crowd. They all wear brightly colored robes. Three men in the back wear helmets and hold spears. The children hold golden platters. In the crowd below, many light-skinned people are dancing, playing instruments, and reaching their arms up toward the platform. A couple reclines in the foreground with a dog. In the anterior wall, there is a large doorway bordered by columns. Through the doorway is a softly lit landscape with mountains and trees. This painting is oval-shaped and sits in an ornate golden rectangular frame.

Gallery Text

After his elevation to the rank of duke and peer, Cardinal Richelieu (1585–1642), first minister of France, designed and built the elaborate chateau and surrounding town that bore his name. This painting was commissioned for the mantel of the study in the king’s suite. Ancient Roman emperors like Titus, known for his largesse, provided a model for European monarchs, and this canvas allusively represents the liberality of Louis XIII, who appears in the guise of Titus dispensing gifts. The man in the red toga supporting him bears the features of the cardinal. Below the podium, the celebration recalls the bacchanals by Andrea Mantegna and Nicolas Poussin — the latter, Stella’s close friend and inspiration — that hung in the same room. This painting was at one time cut and amended to fit a rectangular frame. It was only recently restored to its original oval format.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jacques Stella, French (Lyon 1596 - 1657 Paris)
The Liberality of Titus (Allegory of the Liberality of Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: The Liberality of Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu
Work Type
c. 1637-1638
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2400, European Art, 17th century, Rome and Its Influence in the Seventeenth Century
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
image: 191 x 146.2 cm (75 3/16 x 57 9/16 in.)
stretcher: 196.5 x 150.8 cm (77 3/8 x 59 3/8 in.)
frame: 222.3 x 176.5 x 15.2 cm (87 1/2 x 69 1/2 x 6 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Auguste-Louis-César-Hipolite-Théodore de Lespinasse de Langeac, comte d'Arlet, sold [Mont de Piété, Paris, July 11-19, 1803, lot 235]; [1] to Lovencourt, Paris [2]. Private Collection, Massachusetts. [Richard Gray, Cambridge, MA], sold; to Lewis Nierman, 1968, partial gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1972

[1] Fredericksen states, "As for Lespinasse de Langeac, we know that he died in February, 1814, and was a dealer." " is not certain that the Stella was his property" but "three of the extant copies of the catalogue are inscribed with variations of [his name] indicating that he was the principle consigner" (Burton B. Fredericksen, The Getty Information Institute)

[2]. Fredericksen states, "The identity of the latter [Lovencourt] is unknown, and the name is found spelled in different ways, including even Novecoure. We have adopted Lovencourt simply because it seems to be the most common and probable form. His activity was very limited, and excepting one purchase in 1801, all of his activity (24 purchases) took place in 1803. We have no idea whether he was a dealer or a collector, nor what happened to his pictures." ( Burton B. Fredericksen, The Getty Information Institute)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift in part of Lewis G. Nierman and Charles Nierman and purchase in part from the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Sydney J. Freedberg, "Lorenzo Lotto to Nicolas Poussin", Apollo (May 1978), vol. 107, no. 195, pp. 389-397, p. 396, repr. p. 396 as fig. 16
  • Pierre Rosenberg, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1982), cat. no. 100 pp. 319-320, repr.
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 196, p. 172, repr.
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990)
  • J. H. Elliott, ed., The World of the Favorite, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, and London, 1999), repr. as fig. 54
  • Sue Welsh Reed, Richelieu: Art and Power, exh. cat., ed. Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal/Wallraf-Richartz-Museum/Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon (Montreal and Cologne, 2002), cat. no. 125, pp. 290-92, repr.
  • The Art of Europe in Context, 2002, pp. 42, repr. in b/w, 46
  • Christopher Allen, French Painting in the Golden Age, Thames & Hudson (New York NY, 2003), repr. p. 101 as fig. 80
  • Sylvain Laveissière and Gilles Chomer, Jacques Stella (1596-1657), exh. cat., Somogy Éditions d'Art (Paris, 2006), pp. 15, 109, repr. p. 108 as fig. V.1
  • Old Masters in Context 2000-2006, Samuel H. Kress Foundation (New York, NY, 2006), p. 51, repr. in color
  • Jonathan Brown, Escritos Completos Sobre Velazquez, Centro de Estudios Europa Hispanica (2008), pp. 356-357; repr. in color as Fig 18 on p. 357.
  • Paola Pacht Bassani, Richelieu à Richelieu: Architecture et décors d'un château disparu, exh. cat., ed. Alexandre Gady and Paola Pacht Bassani, Silvana Editoriale (Milan, 2011), cat. no. 127 pp. 322-24, repr.
  • Nicolas Milovanovic and Mickäel Szanto, ed., Poussin et Dieu, exh. cat., Hazan (Paris, 2015), pp. 41-2, fig. 20
  • Peter Erickson, "Rituals of Empire: Gift-Giving and Largesse in Joseph Roth's 'Die Büste des Kaisers'", Journal of Austrian Studies, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, Fall 2021), vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 27-55, pp. 27-29, repr. p. 29 as fig. 1
  • Marie-Pierre Terrien, Richelieu: le cardinal-ministre sa cité idéale son héritage, Éditions la Simarre (Joué-lès-Tours, 2021), pp. 41-42, repr. p. 42 as fig. 27
  • Catalogue de l'oeuvre de Jacques Stella, website, 2022, [Paris, oeuvres datables de 1641-1643:; accessed June 27, 2022]

Exhibition History

  • La Peinture Francaise au XVII Siecle dans Les Collections Americaines, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 01/29/1982 - 04/26/1982; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 05/26/1982 - 08/22/1982; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 09/18/1982 - 11/28/1982
  • Richelieu: Art and Power, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 09/18/2002 - 01/05/2003; Wallraf-Richartz-Museum / Fondation Corboud, Cologne, 01/31/2003 - 05/04/2003
  • Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • Richelieu à Richelieu, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, Tours, 03/11/2011 - 06/13/2011
  • 32Q: 2400 French/Italian/Spanish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

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