HUCHTENBURG, Jan Van (1647-1733). Military Scenes from the History of Louis XIV. Paris 1667-70, 1667.
Military Scenes from the History of Louis XIV is a series of eight etchings by the Dutch artist Jan van Huchtenburg. It celebrates Louis XIV’s military conquests in the Spanish Netherlands during the War of Devolution (1667-68). Van Huchtenburg executed his etchings in the style of his master, the French court painter Adam Frans van der Meulen, who, accompanied by van Huchtenburgh, produced drawings of the campaign while on tour with the king in the late 1660’s. Van Huchtenburg’s eight prints depict at least three separate French victories secured by Louis XIV in the War of Devolution, a conflict whose origins lie in opposing claims to the territories of the Spanish Netherlands. Upon the death of Philip IV of Spain in 1665, Louis XIV of France made claim to the Spanish territories west of the Dutch Republic. In the spirit of military and economic expansion that pervaded the French court during the mid-seventeenth century, Louis XIV found pretext for his claim to the Spanish Netherlands in the lineage of his wife, Maria Theresa of Spain. As the only surviving child of Philip IV’s first marriage (to Elisabeth of France, d. 1644) and in light of Charles II’s regency (Philip IV died while his heir by his second wife, Mariana of Austria, was just four years old), Maria Theresa was, according to the French court, the proper heir to her father’s estate and the Spanish Netherlands were thereby "devolved" to her. Van Huchtenburg’s prints represent early French victories in the War of Devolution, sieges and battles that took place in the countryside of the Spanish Netherlands in the vicinity of cities such as Lille and Tournai. Of these eight etchings, three represent Louis XIV’s conquest of Tournai from June 21-25, 1677 (plates 1-3; plate 3 has been identified as the Surrender of Tournai by Edith A. Standen; plates 1 and 2 identified in our research) and three represent the taking of Douai from June 30-July 4, 1667 (plates 4-6 identified in our reserarch). The subjects of the remaining etchings (plates 7 and 8) remain unidentified by scholars, but it seems likely that they represent the fortress towns of Charleroi, Ath, and Lille, as Louis XIV is known to have visited these areas during the summer of 1677 (figure 1). The king’s successful campaigns in Tournai and Douai were coordinated with other attacks that the Marechal d’Aumont de Rochebaron and the Marechal de Turenne mounted to the north. These battles, intended to cut off Spanish access to the sea, ensured that France had all but conquered the Spanish Netherlands by the end of September 1667. The speed with which the French spread throughout the Spanish Netherlands worried English, Dutch, and Swedish leaders alike, particularly as bureaucratic obstacles in Spain delayed the influx of additional Spanish troops. The members of the resulting "Triple Alliance" against France (England, the Dutch Netherlands, and Sweden) thus encouraged a spate of European diplomatic negotiations in the winter of 1667. Although Louis XIV had little intention of rescinding his territorial gains (instead, the king moved additional troops into the Franche-Comté in February 1668, long before the initiation of the summer campaigns, as a means of securing additional diplomatic "bargaining chips"), by March of 1668, France had agreed to the terms of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Recognizing that the French were no match for the combined military strength of the Triple Alliance, Louis XIV agreed to return to Spain all conquered territories with the exception of twelve Spanish fortress towns, including Lille, Tournai, Courtrai, Douai, Charleroi, and Ath. The heightened tensions between France and the Dutch Republic that resulted from these negotiations led, according to some scholars, to the Franco-Dutch War of 1672-78. French diplomatic relations also suffered in the aftermath of the War of Devolution, as Louis XIV had encouraged an historically unlikely alliance between Spain and the Dutch Republic. As Van H. Bookseller Inventory # 72VO001