Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Young Lady 

Circle of Francois Clouet 

Portrait of a Young Lady, Circle of Francois Clouet
Oil on Panel
16th Century
11 1/2 x 9 1/2 ins., (29 x 24 cm.)
Private Collection, USA; Private Collection, UK.
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This delicately painted portrait was almost certainly produced on the continent in the mid-to-late sixteenth century, and is typical of the style of French Renaissance portraiture, characterised by soft flesh tones, meticulous detailing and intimate scale.

One of the main protagonists in this field was Francois Clouet, a French-born portraitist who worked within the highest echelons of the court circles, and whose surviving drawings and panels influence much of modern-day understanding of European visual imagery from that period.

Clouet was the son of Flemish-Franco painter Jean Clouet, and succeeded his father as Painter in Ordinary to King Francis I on his death in 1641. Clouet maintained a highly successful studio throughout his career and counted amongst his patrons a number of highly illustrious characters including the young Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth, Queen of France, whose portrait is considered one of Clouet’s finest [Louvre, Paris]. As well as working in oils, Clouet was also a highly accomplished portrait miniature painter (or ‘limner’), as evinced by the miniature of Catherine de Medici [Victoria & Albert Museum], which has traditionally been attributed to his hand.

The style of clothing in this portrait is quite reminiscent of that worn by women at court in the late 1560s and early 1570s, in particular the high-shouldered slashed sleeves with protruding white fabric fastened by pearls. The cut of the dress is likewise in keeping with this period, with the upper area of the chest and shoulders covered in thin white gauze.
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