The Poison Portrait

TV (mini) series (6)- in development


For centuries, this Louvre-painting has mystified viewers. Even today, hardly anything is known about it. The painter: anonymous. The date: uncertain. The subject matter: dubious. The only certainty we have is that one of the women is Gabrielle d’Estrées, long-time mistress of Henry IV and mother of three of his children. In the spring of 1599, all of Paris was preparing for her to be married to Henry IV and thus to become the new queen of France. However, just a few days before the wedding, the twenty-six-year-old pregnant woman was suddenly seized by terrible cramps to which she eventually succumbed after an agony so terrible that even her doctors abandoned her, invoking not the hand of God, but the foul machinations of the Devil. 


Her unexpected demise paved the way for Maria de Medici and the return to power of the counter-reformation. With Henry’s assassination a few years later, his conciliatory reign was dead and buried, and Europe well on its way to plunge into the carnage and devastation of the Thirty Years‘ War.


Was Gabrielle murdered by the Medici-Clan? Does the painting contain clues about a conspiracy against her life, a secret message so dangerous that only a painter dared to talk about in the language of art?


Based on seven years of research and new findings in the secret correspondence of the Medici-spies in Paris, The Poison Portrait reconstructs the genesis of one of the most enigmatic anonymous portrait series of the so-called École de Fontainebleau. It tells the story of its painter and how he got involved in one of the greatest and most tragic love stories of the 16th century.

Wolfram Fleischhauer
Based on
”The Poison Portrait Vol. 1″ (1996/2018) and “The Poison Portrait Vol. 2” (forthcoming) by Wolfram Fleischhauer
Saralisa Volm