The High Renaissance




Francois Clouet


Francois Clouet

(b ?Tours, c. 1516; d Paris, 22 Sept 1572).

Son of Jean Clouet. He was a pupil of his father, whom he succeeded as ‘painctre et varlet de chambre’ to Francis I in 1540. He also inherited the nickname ‘Janet’ and is referred to as such in a number of early sources and in the older literature. After the death of Francis I in 1547 he continued to serve the Valois monarchy principally as a portrait artist; his portrait drawings, like those of his father, were particularly eagerly sought after by Catherine de’ Medici, wife of Henry II and mother of Francis II and Charles IX. His reputation was such that his drawings were praised in verse by Pierre de Ronsard and other contemporary poets. Nevertheless, his career in royal service seems to have been subject to competition by the 1560s: Catherine also employed Etienne Dumonstier and Pierre Dumonstier to paint portraits, and Charles IX employed principally Marc Duval. Clouet may well have done more work at this period for the nobility, such as the L’Aubespine-Villeroy family and Claude Gouffier, from whom in 1568 he received an annual pension higher than that paid by the King. He returned to royal service at the end of his life, when he was given charge of the decorations (destr.) for the wedding of Margaret Valois to Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV) in 1572. He was assisted by his pupils Jean Decourt (c. 1530–after 1585) and Pierre Gourdelle (c. 1530–after 1588). His death followed less than a month after the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacres, and though he professed Catholicism in his will, it has been conjectured that he may have been a Protestant whose death was brought on by the shock of such violent persecution.


Portrait of Francis I, King of France

c. 1540
Oil on wood, 27 x 22 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence




Portrait of King Charles IX of France

Oil on wood, 25 x 21 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


The Bath of Diana

Oil on panel, 133 x 192 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen


Diane de Poitiers

Oil on wood, 92 x 81 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

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