Having recapped The Serpent Queen, of course, I first looked at other versions of Catherine de’ Medici onscreen. But her nemesis Diane de Poitiers also deserves another look. And while she has gotten at least one feature film dedicated to her life story — and another one on the way — Diane otherwise doesn’t show up too much in movies and TV shows. Her ‘career’ at the French court was shorter, and she didn’t figure into as many key points in French history. Diane was a lady-in-waiting first to Queen Claude around 1517-24 and then to Queen Eleanor from 1530. Her husband died in 1531 and by that same year, the King’s son Henri was wearing Diane’s colors in tourneys so they had some kind of relationship. Henri married Catherine de’ Medici in 1533, and it’s speculated that Diane became Henri’s mistress in 1534. She wielded incredible power at court when Henri became King in 1547, she raised his and Catherine’s children, she managed property, she commissioned buildings and artwork, she even wore parts of the crown jewels. But that ended when Henri died in 1559. Thus, Diane de Poitiers only turns up onscreen in relationship to Catherine and Henri’s court in these few portrayals.
The one iconic thing about her look is that she wore only black and white after her husband died. This was supposedly meant as mourning but also symbolic of the moon goddess Diana, and it’s a striking combination that turns up frequently in 16th-century images (Queen Elizabeth I of England was fond of the combo as well). Unfortunately, there are few period images of Diane herself.
How do the few frock flicks do?
Ariane Lancell in If Paris Were Told to Us aka Si Paris Nous Etait Conté (1956)
Lana Turner in Diane (1956)
Annie Ducaux in La Princesse de Clèves (1961)
Yolande Folliot in “Le Connétable de Bourbon,” Les Grandes Conjurations (1978)
Sylvie Granotier in Cellini: A Violent Life aka Cellini: Una Vita Scellerata (1990)
Diana Quick in Nostradamus (1994)
Anna Walton in Reign (2013-14)
Ludivine Sagnier in The Serpent Queen (2022)
Isabelle Adjani in Diane de Poitiers aka The King’s Favorite (2022?)
Who’s your favorite Diane de Poitiers on TV or movies?