Campania : The Altar of St Louis of Toulouse

The Altar of St Louis of Toulouse

The Altar of Saint Louis of Toulouse, 1317, Simone Martini, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples.

Simone Martini’s The Altar of Saint Louis of Toulouse depicts Saint Louis of Anjou crowning his brother, King Robert II. The House of Anjou was a Frankish noble family that was held a great deal of power during the thirteenth and fourteenth century in Europe. The ruled various territories, including Jerusalem, Sicily and Hungary. The altarpiece was used to publically celebrate various events connected to the Angevin royal house. The altarpiece has a main panel and a horizontal predella, which has five different parts. In the main panel, Saint Louis of Anjou is shown, dressed as Bishop of Toulouse, crowning his younger brother, King Robert II. In the predella, there are five scenes of events that are indicative of the life, death and canonization of Saint Louis. The purpose of the piece was partly an effort to dismiss Louis’s spiritual path and resigning his claim to the throne. His renouncement was a matter that was frowned upon by his family. The other element of this altarpiece was to solidify Robert’s claim to throne, as he usurped the throne of Hungary from his nephew Charles Robert in 1296. With iconography of the royal family and strong religious connections with Louis of Toulouse, Simone Martini’s extremely public altarpiece had significant prominence in society and grand promotion of the House of Anjou.