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Francois Clouet (before 1522-1572)

( Originally Published 1955 )

French court painter. Succeeded his father Jean as painter to the king and valet de chambre for the French monarchs Francis I, Henry II, Francis II and Charles IX, thus making the name "Clouet" synonymous with the best portrait painting of the century in France. His style is somewhat more certain than his father's since there exist two paintings signed "Fr. Janetii." There is also a series of outstanding portrait drawings of contemporaries which can be attributed to Francois for the same reason that others are credited to his father Jean (see). One of the signed paintings (Cook Collection) is of a nude woman in a bathtub with children and with domestic activity in the background. This is one of a group of such erotic portraits of the era based in idea on Titian's Venus. In this case Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, has been suggested as the model. The other signed work is a portrait of his neighbor, the apothecary Pierre Cutte (Louvre). This also derives from Italian sources, much resembling the format of Vasari's portraits. In general the style of Francois is more Italianate and polished than that of his father, although his standing portrait of Henry II (Uffizi) suggests knowledge of Holbein's Ambassadors. Among other important portraits that can be attributed to Francois on the basis of the above are the standing portrait of Charles IX (Vienna), bust of Charles IX (Vienna), busts of Henry II (Versailles and Florence). Francois was held in great esteem and was extolled by Ronsard, Pasquier, Dubillon and De Buttet.

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