Portrait of Princess Louise Hippolyte of Monaco (1687-1731) by Jean Baptiste van Loo
About Louise Hippolyte of Monaco: Louise Hippolyte (10 November 1697 – 29 December 1731) was one of only two women to rule Monaco, reigning as Princess of Monaco from 20 February 1731 until her death in December the same year. She was the second daughter of Antonio I of Monaco and Marie de Lorraine-Armagnac. The second of six children born to her parents, she was the first of their children to survive infancy. She had sisters, but no brothers. Her father decided, with the permission of Louis XIV, that her future husband should assume the surname of Grimaldi and rule Monaco jointly with her. On 20 October 1715, at the age of eighteen, she married Jacques François Goyon, Count de Matignon. His candidacy was supported by King Louis XIV, who wanted to consolidate French influence in Monaco. Prior to this, Louise Hippolyte's father was eager to wed his daughter to a Grimaldi cousin. This marriage did not materialise due to the poor finances of the Grimaldis at the time. The marriage was not happy. Louise Hippolyte was described as a shy, while Jacques openly flaunted his mistresses in the royal court at Versailles. They had nine children together. Her father died on 20 February 1731. Louise Hippolyte traveled without her family from Paris to Monaco. As was customary in the case of female monarchs, it had originally been the plan to proclaim Jacques as her joint co-regent. However, it became clear that the people of Monaco did not welcome a Frenchman as co-ruler of Monaco and would prefer Louise Hippolyte as their sole ruler. Louise took advantage of this and took the oath as ruler of Monaco herself before Jacques had arrived. Finding himself without power, he soon returned to France.Princess Louise-Hippolyte ruled Monaco for seven months. She is described as a popular ruler during her short reign. She died of smallpox at the end of 1731.Following her death, her husband took power in Monaco, her son being a minor. Jacques neglected the affairs of Monaco and had to leave the country in May 1732. His ambition was to be declared regent until his son reached the age of 25, after which his son should abdicate his throne to him, but this was not accepted in Monaco. He abdicated in favor of their son, Honoré, the next year.
About the artist and his family: Jean-Baptiste van Loo (14 January 1684 – 19 December 1745) was a French subject and portrait painter.He was born in Aix-en-Provence, and was instructed in art by his father Louis-Abraham van Loo, son of Jacob van Loo (a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, known particularly for his mythological and biblical scenes. He was especially celebrated for the quality of his nudes to the extent that, during his lifetime, particularly his female figures were said to have been considered superior and more popular than those of contemporary and competitor Rembrandt.Though his father also painted, Jacob's success ensured that he would forever be referred to as the founder of the Van Loo family of painters; a dynasty which was influential in French and European painting from the 17th to the beginning of the 19th century.) Jean-Baptiste van Loo was patronized by the prince of Carignan, who sent him to Rome, where he studied under Benedetto Luti. In Rome he was much employed painting for churches.At Turin he painted Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy and several members of his court. Then, moving to Paris, where he was elected a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, he executed various altar-pieces and restored the works of Francesco Primaticcio at Fontainebleau. He also painted portraits of aristocrats living in or visiting Paris. In 1737 he went to England. He also painted Sir Robert Walpole, whose portrait by van Loo in his robes as chancellor of the exchequer is in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the prince and princess of Wales. He did not, however, practise long in England, because of his failing health; he retired to Paris in 1742, and afterwards to Aix-en-Provence, where he died on 19 December 1745. His likenesses were striking and faithful, but seldom flattering. (I might post more about his work and his family's)