Painters Of The Renaissance
( Originally Published 1899 )
The art of portraiture is a comparatively modern one in France. Its birth was in the early 14th century, with the first authentic portrait statues of the Kings of France. This growing preoccupation with the portrait was con-fined for more than a century to sculpture. For France, though far in advance of Italy in sculpture at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th centuries, remained well be-hind Italian, Flemish, and German artists in painting. It is only with the first dawning of the Renaissance, with the growth of interest in humanity, with the influence of Flemish and Italian Art, that we find painted portraits be-coming at all general in France. At first these are miniatures. The earliest known French portrait is that of Le roi Jean (1350-1364), a miniature painted on a figured (gaufré) gold background. A picture, now in the Sainte-Chapelle, represents King Jean and the Pope seated, and receiving a diptych, also on gold, from the hands of a valet de chambre. Portraits are about this period introduced into Manuscripts. In the celebrated Book of Hours of the Duc de Berry, son of King Jean (Bib. Nat. MS. Latin), his portrait is constantly introduced. The Bibliothèque National possesses a remark-able water-colour portrait of Louis II. of Anjou, King of Sicily. This is of about the year 1415. And M. Bouchot considers it of the highest value in the art of portraiture in France.
It is not, however, until the middle of the 15th century, that this art bursts into sudden life under the influence of that great master, Jean Fouquet, whose journey to Italy in 1440 was the touchstone of the French Renaissance. To Jean Fouquet we must always look as the first purely French portrait painter. For, however great his admiration for Italian Art—however strong his endeavour to conform to the new ideals he brought back with him from Italy, in his portraits he remains essentially himself, and essentially French. But Fouquet was more than a portrait painter. In his miniature work, he gives an extraordinary impulse to the art of painting. In that miraculous " Josephus " of the Duc de Berry (Bib. Nat.), we find artistic work of the highest order. Both colour, composition, and drawing are of the most impressive as well as exquisite quality, in some ,of these wonderful pages, where hundreds of figures and wide stretching landscapes are portrayed in the space of a few inches.
Under Fouquet's inspiration, two other artists, Jean Bourdichon and Jean Perréal, now give themselves to the painting of miniatures and portraits. King René of Anjou paints sacred pictures and illuminates his famous Book of Hours. While a host of nameless painters devote themselves to the illuminating of the manuscripts which, to a great extent, represent French painting at the end of the 15th century. The British Museum possesses a very fine collection of French MSS. of this period—notably the numbers 43, 44, 49, 50, 53, 54, 58, 60, 94, 95, 99, 101, 105, 106. In several of these, miniature portraits are introduced ; as in the translation of Saint Augustine by Raoul de Praelles, where the translator is seen presenting the book to King Charles V. of France.—(B. M., 101).
At the beginning of the 16th century, portraits become of ,diplomatic importance. They are used as authentic documents. Kings and princes send their portraits to the Court of the lady they wish to marry ; or receive hers, painted by their own portrait painter, sent on embassy for that purpose. As early as 1445 this had been the usage in other countries ; as, for instance, in the famous journey of Jean Van Eyck from Flanders to Spain, to paint the portrait of Isabella of Portugal, for Jean le Bon, Duke of Burgundy.
Each king and great noble now has his official painter or painters attached to his court and person. The painter, as the sculptor, was a paid servant, who was expected to turn his hand to anything. Portrait drawings, such as. those of the Clouets and their school, were produced in immense quantities. These drawings were kept in books,, like photographs to-day ; or a whole book of portraits was. given as a present. The painter was in fact a sort of Photographer in Ordinary. He continually received orders. for portraits to be finished as quickly as possible ; as when Catherine de Medicis writes : " Que ce soit un crayon pour " estre plus tôt fait ". Oil paintings by the Renaissance painters were few. They had little time for so lengthy a process. These rapid pencil or chalk sketches from the life, were only occasionally used later on for a miniature or a picture. Once, however, having made the sketch from the life, the artist was ready to produce any number of repetitions;. and often entrusted them to his pupils or apprentices. It is. thus that we find so many variants of the same subject.
At the accession of François I., Perréal and Bourdichon are " peintres du roi et varlets de chambre," with Guyot and Jamet Clouet (1516) as their subordinates.
This is the first authentic mention of Clouet, the father, and the great line of portrait painters has begun in France.
JEAN FOUQUET (1415 circa 1480).-" Digne prédécesseur " de Léonard da Vinci, d'Holbein, et de Raphael, Fouquet " prend un vol si élevé qu'on doit lui placer parmi ces grands " maîtres et le nommer désormais avec eux." M. de Laborde considers that Fouquet occupies in the history of the French School, an identical position with that held by Mantegna in Italy.
In 1440, when Fouquet was not thirty years old, he was summoned to Rome to paint the portrait of Pope Eugene IV. This shows that the reputation of the young master, who was already chief of the school of Tours, was known beyond the confines of France. His sojourn in Italy, which was prolonged till 1445, was destined to exercise an enormous influence on French Art ; and must be looked upon as the. real starting-point of the Renaissance.
Miniaturist to Charles VII., Louis XI., Charles VIII., he was the first to give to France the well-defined style of portrait, which obtained till the middle of the 16th century. The greater part of his works which survive, are miniatures and illuminations in MSS. A few larger paintings, however, have been preserved. The Louvre happily possesses two—each of extreme importance and interest. The first is the portrait of Charles VII., in a blue hat and deep red dress bordered with fur, between two little white curtains against a green background. The King's shaven red face with long purple nose, is naïf and frankly ugly. But the life and character of the picture as a portrait are intense, and the colour fine. The second is Guillaume Juvénal des Ursins, Chancellor of France under Charles VII. and Louis XI., in a dull red, fur-bordered robe, against a golden background. This is also a most powerful and lifelike portrait. The delicate painting of the hands is admirable. And the suggestion of the coming Renaissance is interesting in the straight lines of the back-ground, divided into compartments, with bears supporting a shield. There are a few other portraits existent. But the miniatures are fortunately more numerous.
Chief among these is the Josephus of the Bibliothèque National.
In the first illustration, a full page of the Creation, the Italian taste that Fouquet had acquired is suggested by the two hairy-men and the two opulent mermaids, who support the Duc de Berry's coat of arms. On the other hand, there are two women's figures in the border which are purely French. The colour of these full page illustrations is most beautiful. Especially so perhaps in the fourth picture, in which Korah, Dathan and Abiram are being swallowed up. The soft dull greys, browns and blues, are most harmonious. So is the delicate tender green of the meadow where the earth opens, on the top of a rock wall round which a furious fight is going on between men in armour, with spears, swords, and shields—the chain armour picked out with fine gold. An exquisite landscape with wooded hills stretches far away—beyond the Roman Temple where Moses and Aaron stand.
And the fire falls from heaven in long fiery tongues and lines, like the lash of a stock whip. Fouquet's favourite Orange Vermilion, which is found in nearly all his work, only appears in the frame of flaming seraphim round the golden figure representing God the Father above ; and in one sword sheath in the foreground—a most telling and subtle touch. The French landscapes and buildings, which appear with charming naïveté throughout the series, are of a very advanced type. The illustrations, of which there are fourteen, are not mere illuminations, but complete pictures—real works of art on a tiny scale.
A good many important MSS. have been attributed rather wildly to Fouquet. Among them the Livy at the Bib. Nat., and the superb Bible at Corpus Coll., Oxford, These are most certainly not his, though it is possible they may be by his sons or pupils. As is probably the case with the Valerius Maximus (Brit. Mus., 95) and the Froissart (Brit. Mus., 54).
Examples : Miniatures and Illuminations :-
1. 40 Miniatures from the Book of Hours painted for Étienne Chevalier, Coll. of M., Brentano-Laroche, Frankfort.
2. Boccacio of Mienne Chevalier, Munich.
3. Josephus of Duc de Berry, Bib. Nat., Paris.
4. Josephus with Painting of Louis XI. as a mason, Tours.
5. Virgil, Library, Dijon.
6. Boccacio, Geneva.
7. One page of Roman de la Rose, with man sleeping, Bib. Nat., Paris.
8. Book of Hours, Chantilly.
1. Full length of Etienne Chevalier, Coll. Brentano-Laroche, Frankfort.
2. Virgin and Child, Musée, Antwerp. These are both part of an Ex-voto for N. D. de Melun.
3. Small portrait, Coll. Prince Lichtenstein.
4. Charles VII., Louvre.
5. Guillaume Juvénal des Ursins, Louvre.
JEAN PERRÉAL, Or JEAN DE PARIS (d. circa 1528).-Of Jean
Perréal very little is positively known. He is one of those disconcerting artists, of whose work little or nothing survives to sustain the reputation he undoubtedly enjoyed during his lifetime. For his reputation among his contemporaries was a brilliant one. Lemaire, in his Légende des Vénitiens, speaks. of him as " Mon singulier patron et bienfaiteur, nostre " second Zeusis ou Apelles en painture, Maistre Jehâ Perreal " de Paris, paictre et varlet de châbre ordinaire du roy ".
He accompanied Louis XII. in his Italian campaigns.. In 1508 his horse is mentioned in accounts of the Royal stables. When Michel Colombe designed the tomb of Philibert de Savoie in 1511, he was ordered to follow the portrait by " Maistre Jehan Perreal de Paris ". In 1514 he was sent to England to superintend Mary Tudor's trousseau for her marriage with Louis XII.—the marriage which the King's death cut short. And after the accession of Francois I. we find that Perréal and Bourdichon were receiving the highest rate of wages for painters in ordinary—240 livres.
The only authenticated example of Perréal's work is the little oil painting, a Virgin and child with Charles VIII. and Anne of Brittany, from the collection of M. Baucel, and generously presented by him to the Louvre, where it is now placed in the Salon Carré. This is a most interesting picture. For although it appears at first sight to be in the style of Van Eyck—with the Virgin in pink and crimson robes against a green background, the green carpet, the glass and metal jug of wild flowers, the figures of Charles VIII. and Anne of Brittany on either side—yet it shows singular differences from the Flemish School. The figures are a purely French not Flemish type. The child is finely made, graceful, slender, and full of movement. The tone is fine ; less hard than Van Eyck, less archaïc than Memling.
JEAN CLOUET, dit JEHANNET (d. 1539).—The earliest mention of Jean Clouet is in 1516. His name appears as " Jamet Clouet," one of the " Valets de garde-robe " to François I. Each year, until 1522, he is mentioned in the same list. In that year his name is changed to Jehannet Clouet. And so, down to 1539 he appears as Jean, Jamet, Jehan, or Jehannet.
He was apparently a native of Flanders. He certainly was not a Frenchman born. For after his death the King presents to his son, François Clouet, all the estate of the deceased, which had reverted to the Crown " par droit d'aubaine," as he had not received letters of naturalization, and was therefore unable to dispose of his property by will.
Jamet, Jehan, or Jehannet—those noms de guerre which were the almost universal fashion of the day—was the favourite portrait painter of the King ; and made himself useful as his patron required—one day painting or drawing portraits of the King's mistresses—the next decorating a piece of furniture or a coat of arms. His fame was great, from the extraordinary truth of his likenesses. And the royal accounts show him continuously employed on portraits for his Royal master. Jean Clouet settled at Tours, where he married Jeanne Boucault, daughter of a goldsmith. And in the Comptes des bâtiments we often find the King sending a messenger hot haste to the city to bring him back the portraits executed by his painter. Indeed on one occasion Jeanne Boucault is pressed into the service, and has to make a journey with the portraits which are needed.
In spite of the numerous mentions of Jehannet in con-temporary documents, in only a single case is his authorship attached to one of the scores of miniatures and portraits that bear his name. This is the portrait of Oronce Finé, engraved by Thevet in his gallery of Hommes Illuetres. This portrait, Oronce Fine's son distinctly states to be from the hand of Jean Clouet.
M. Bouchot, however, has made a most valuable contribution to our knowledge of the portraits that we may attribute with some security to Jehannet. After an exhaustive study of the 300 " Castle Howard " drawings by the Clouets, bought in 1889 from Lord Carlisle by the Duc d'Aumale, M. Bouchot points out that these are a consecutive series of portraits from 1515 to 1570. They are drawn from the life by two (or at most three) artists of the first rank. Two hands are noticeable—two différent methods. One of these represents the personages living from 1515 to 1540. The other those living from 1540 to 1570.
The first of these artists is an unrivalled draftsman. " He has the fastidious search for likeness, the breadth of " drawing, the rigidity and strength of Holbein." M. Bouchot has identified several persons among these drawings ; notably the " Connétable " Anne de Montmorency at twenty-two years old ; Bonnivet, admiral of France ; Tournon, killed at Pavia ; Chabannes de la Palice ; Fleuranage ; Arthur Gouffier. These drawings—a third of the size of nature—are to be found translated without the very slightest change except of size, into miniatures in the manuscript of La Guerre Gallique, now in the Bib. Nat. This MS. was decorated with grisailles for François I. by Godefroy de Hollande. But the King had miniature portraits of his "preux de Marignan" painted in by another artist, under the names of Roman Warriors. And some contemporary has been painstaking enough to put the real names to the various characters. If these drawings and the corresponding miniatures are not by Jehannet Clouet, there must have been a second artist—his exact contemporary—who was also one of the greatest of French portraitists.
FRANÇOIS CLOUET, dit JANET.—The son of Jean Clouet and Jeanne Boucault, was born in Tours probably about 1512. For in 1541, the letters of François I., making a gift to him of his father's possessions, are a regular certificate of his ability. While he acknowledges the great talent of the father, the King adds : " En quoi sondict fils l'a déjà très " bien imyté et espérons qu'il fera et continuera encores de " bien en mieux cy après ".
Immediately after his father's death he entered the Royal service, receiving 240 livres a year. Until 1546 he was the only painter in ordinary ; when Léonard Limousin, the enameller, was joined to his service with 120 livres of wages. In 1547 Clouet was charged to take a cast of the King's face and hands after his death, for the painted and dressed effigy at the funeral. He also-executed the paintings in the decoration of the Church, banners, etc., for the ceremony.
On the accession of Henri II. he held the same offices he had enjoyed under the late King, with an assistant, Boutelou de Blois. And on Feb. 10, 1547 ('48 new style), we know from a receipt that he was receiving 300 francs a quarter. In 1551 he was made commissaire au Châtelet, without resigning his office of painter in ordinary. And in the accounts of '51-'54, we find him painting devices and " des croissants lacés" of Henri II. and Diane de Poitiers on the King's carriages. After the King's death in July, 1559, Clouet, or as he is invariably called, " Janet," took a cast of Henri's face, and again made the painted effigy. In December of the same year he was created controller general of the effigies of the Mint—a position in which Germain Pilon succeeded him.
By his will, made in the presence of the curé of Saint-Merry at his house in the Rue Sainte-Avoye, it is seen that he was not married ; that he had two illegitimate daughters, Diane and Lucrèce, to whom he bequeathed 1200 livres a year ; and to his sister, Catherine Clouet, the wife of Abel Foulon, an income of 600 livres. The last mention of his. name is in 1570, as receiving 123 livres for divers services. But although the exact date of his death is unknown, it is presumed to have taken place in 1572. For in that year, while at the height of his fame, he is succeeded in his office as painter by Jehan de Court.
Clouet's reputation was great among the contemporary poets. Etienne Pasquier, Jodelle, Du Billon, and all the poetasters of the age, sing the praises of " docte Janet ". And Ronsard orders from him an ideal portrait of his lady-love. One and all call him " Janet "—the sobriquet he inherited from his father. And this has helped yet further to cause confusion between the works of father and son. But the methods of the two men in their crayon drawings are different. " Jeannet Clouet has his own way of dashing " down a sketch, because for him this sketch rarely remains the " definitive work. François Clouet on the contrary composes " pure pencil drawings, works at them longer, finishes them " highly, and takes from them by successive touches, that " flower, that bloom of freshness, which those of his father " retain. Of these two men, one possesses the frankness and " charming naïveté ; the other the science and attainment."
If François Clouet had painted or drawn one quarter of the portraits assigned to him, he would have needed not only superhuman activity and strength, but a life twice as long as the ordinary three-score years and ten. His name has been attached to the greater part of the drawings and paintings of the period, with an astonishing looseness. Many so-called " Clouets," though not signed, are dated years after his death. Others, which are obviously by other artists, still bear his name, even in well-known collections. And, with certain exceptions, it is by no means an easy task to assign this or that portrait to him.
In the seven boxes of portrait drawings in the Bib. Nat., Paris, we can easily trace three different hands. 150 out of the 800 portrait drawings in this collection are hors pair. All—as M. Bouchot points out—with very few exceptions, are of the highest value. And here alone we get an authentic guide to the portraits we may certainly attribute to Francois Clouet. For a number of these came from a sketch-book of Francois Clouet's, on the blank pages of which Benjamin Foulon, his nephew, has perpetrated some very poor portrait heads of a later date—signing his name to one of them. And against the superb works of his uncle he has written the names of the various personages living from 1559 to 1567, in red pencil. This precious book gives us a priceless clue to the works of the master. In the Castle Howard Collection at Chantilly we find the salue style, but these are works of his early career. In the Bib. Nat., both in the portraits from the book, and in others, we have the artist in the very perfection of his power. Among the most exquisite of these is a Robert de la Marck, in two coloured pencils. A magnificent " Dandelot Coligny ". A series of Gabrielle d'Estrées, the earlier ones of enchanting beauty. Two of Catherine de Medicis. A superb Charles IX., from which the miniature, now in the Imperial Treasure at Vienna, was painted by Clouet. The original drawing of Clouet's miniature of Mary Queen of Scots at Windsor. The " Reine Margot " as a child. A noble portrait of Marguerite de Navarre. The beautiful Mme. de Villeroy. Madame de Retz. The Princesse of la Roche-sur-Yon. Jeanne d'Albret in mourning dress. These are but a few from the seven boxes.
Some of these drawings, both in Paris and at Chantilly, bear MS. notes which are of extreme interest. Such as that of the Princesse of la Roche-sur-Yon (the birthplace 300 years later of Paul Baudry), where the dress is indicated as " red ". In another, " le bord du passement d'or et de soie noir ". In that of Admiral Coligny, the sleeve is noted " velours rouge ". And on the back of another are several little sketches of details of the elaborate dress of the period. Some of the drawings in the Louvre are of equal interest. But as they are framed, they cannot be handled and examined at the back as well as on the face, as in the case of the Bib. Nat. and the Chantilly collections.
In François Clouet's paintings " all is clear, well-studied. " There is no apparent sacrifice, no pretentiousness of hand-" ling. Yet the more closely they are examined the more one " penetrates the character, moral and physical, of the person-" age depicted, the more one discovers the subtlety of model-" ling under this silvery aspect, this absence of the resources " of light and shade, the more one sees that all the details " are executed with a lightness, a certainty of hand, to which " none of the partisans of ` touch ' have been able to approach."
Lady Dilke points out that the French painters of the 16th century " laid on their local tint in a solid layer, running " it up to the extreme edge in mass," and on this, when dry, they hatched with the brush point. The colour being much diluted, these touches melt into one another, forming an evenly distributed film—an application of the method of miniature painters of the 15th century. :This renders Clouet's works specially susceptible to the destructive influence of the cleaner. Even the most careful cleaning tends to destroy this supreme beauty of his work—this exquisite film of delicate cross-hatchings.
Several miniatures by François Clouet are known. Some are from illuminated manuscripts, and Royal Books of Hours. There is now no doubt that it was François Clouet who painted the greater part of the miniatures for Catherine de Medicis' little Book of Hours, in the Louvre. The book has been much tampered with. And the frontispiece portrait of Henri II. was taken out in the 17th century. It is now in the galerie des Estampes of the Bib. Nat. : and is replaced in the book by one of the Vicomte de Martigues. " But all the " paintings executed on the leaves of the book are by the same " hand which produced the Catherine de Medicis of Vienna, " and the Mary Stuart of Windsor." 1 Of the Mary Stuart I have spoken above. The payment for Catherine's miniature is mentioned in the Clairambault MS. 233, as " to " François Clouet dit Janet, painter of the said King " (Charles IX.). This miniature, sent with several others to Vienna at the time of Charles' marriage, is now in the Imperial Treasure, where also the Charles IX. miniature is preserved. The payment of 135 livres is made to Clouet in May, 1572, four months before his death, for this portrait.
Portrait drawings in one or more pencils.
The Sketch-book and many others, Bib. Nat., Paris.
Portrait drawings, Louvre.
Portrait drawings, from Castle Howard and Stafford House, Chantilly.
Book of Hours of Cath. de Medicis, Louvre.
Charles IX. ; Catherine de Medicis, Imp. Tres., Vienna.
Mary Queen of Scots, Windsor.
Duc d'Alençon holding Queen Eliz., portrait, Jones
Coll., S. Kens.
Henri III., from Hamilton Palace Coll.
Henri II., Bib. Nat.
128. Full length, Charles IX. (small), Louvre. 127. François I., head, Louvre.
130. Henri II., pendant to 128, Louvre.
131. François de Lorraine, duc de Guise, Louvre. Elizabeth of Austria, Louvre.
Charles IX. Belvedere, Vienna, signed thus :
" Charles VIIII., Très Chrétien, Roy de France,
" en l'aage de XX ans. Peinct au vif par Janet, 1563." This is the only life-size portrait by Clouet.
Two Portraits, Mary Queen of Scots. Archibald Douglas. Marie de Guise. Don Carlos, son of Philip II. (?). Francois II., Windsor.
Eléonore, Queen of France, Hampton Court.
François I. and Lady, Hampton Court.
Three Portraits, Nat. Gallery.
Three Portraits—two untouched by cleaning—from the collection of J. Lumsden Propert, Esq.
Marguerite de France, enfant. And François duc d'Alençon, from Stafford House, at Chantilly. Also portraits in many private collections in England and France. Some of great beauty and value at Azay le Rideau, Touraine.
JEAN COUSIN (b. Soucy, about 1500; ol. about 1589).-It is said of Cousin "il jouit d'une réputation mérité ". But he, like Perréal, is one of those baffling personalities of whose works little has survived to justify his great reputation. We know that he was well connected. And that he began his career as a painter on glass. Glass painter, sculptor, and painter, he tried all branches of art in turn. And if the works attributed to him were really his, he succeeded in each. In 1530 he painted windows for the Cathedral at Sens—for the Chapel of Vincennes, for the Chateau de Fleurigny, St. Gervais, Paris, and Notre Dame of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. Besides these, which still exist, he painted between 1552 and 1560, five windows in grisaille for Diane de Poitiers at Anet. These, with some for the Cordeliers at Sens, have unhappily been entirely destroyed.
Some of his pictures survive. His " Last Judgment " in the Louvre is a work of great importance and interest, fine and Michelangesque. It contains some most delightful bogies, who run like a flock of chickens before an old man with bagpipes.
Cousin's reputation as a sculptor rests mainly on his supposed authorship of Admiral Chabot's statue. But it has been proved satisfactorily that this could not possibly be his work.
A number of engravings from Cousin's designs are pre-served in the Bib. Nat., such as the Brazen Serpent, and Conversion of St. Paul, by Delaune. And a good engraving by Leonard Gaiter, 1581, of the Forge—seven naked men and a boy. These and his fine books, L'Art de Dessinez -1560—and the Livre de Pourtraicture, republished in 1595—the editor speaking of " feu M. Cousin "—show his distinguishing qualities, "breadth, power, and the severity " which usually accompanies their union ".
He is constantly mentioned in documents at Sens. And seems, after the fashion of the day, to have turned his hand to everything. In the Cathedral accounts in 1530 we find, paid to " Jehan Cousin pour avoir mis a point le petit " orlouge " And again, " pour avoir racoustré, et " peint ung ymage de Notre Dame près de la porte du " coeur ".
He was the great reformer in glass painting. His glass is remarkable for the effects he obtained by using enamel colours on white. And the chemicals he used are in great part those in use today.
Great Window, Chapel of St. Eutropius, Sens.
The Tiburtine Sibyl, Chap. N. D. de Lorette, Sens. Same subject, Chateau de Fleurigny, nr. Sens. Last Judgment, Chapel of Vincennes.
Last Judgment, Notre Dame, Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. Four windows, Ch. St. Gervais, Paris.
These have also been attributed to Pinagrier. Fragments of windows for Écouen, Ch. of Ecouen. Paintings :
Last Judgment, Louvre.
Eva Prima Pandora, Mme. Chaulay.
Deposition, Musée de Mayence.
Small deposition, M. Lechevalier-Chevignard.
Small portrait Diane de Poitiers, M. Arsène Houssaye. Five portraits, in the possession of his descendants
the Bowyers, Rue Héricault-des-Touches, Tours. Several etchings.
The Entrée à Rouen of Henry II., illustrated by Cousin.
The Entrée à Paris—doubtful.
L'Art de dessiner.
Livre de Pourtraicture, 2nd ed., 1595.
CORNEILLE DE LYON, Or DE LA HAYE.—Until quite recently little or nothing was known of Corneille de la Haye, except from the praise of his contemporaries. Poets such as Eustoge de Beaulieu in 1544, say that since the days of Noah such a painter " pour bien tirer un personnage au vif " has never been seen. Brantome mentions a journey of the Court to Lyons in 1564. And how Queen Catherine then saw a room full of portraits of all the ladies and gentlemen who had accompanied her to Lyons in 1548, in the house of the modest artist who had finished them meanwhile. And the Queen, being much entertained at the fashions of 1548, called the Duc de Nemours, who had been with her on her former journey, to bear witness to the truth of Corneille's drawings. But here all information ceased. Not one single authentic portrait was known of the painter " superlatif Pour bien tirer ". More recently, M. Natalis Rondot discovered in the archives-of Lyons that Corneille " le painctre flamman," was in 1540 made painter to the Dauphin. That he was exempted in 1549 from "l'entrée du vin ". And that in 1551 he was appointed painter to Henri II.
But it remained for M. Bouchot to discover four undoubted pictures by Corneille.
On certain of the drawings in the famous inventory of Roger de Gaignières' collection now in the Bib. Nat., M. Bouchot found written, " Copié sur l'original peint par " Corneille, dans le Cabinet de M. Gaignières ". And further, two of the four original pictures, bearing at the back Colbert's red seal of the viper, which shows that they were bought by Louis XIV. from Gaignières, are now at Chantilly, and two at Versailles.
Those at Chantilly are the charming portrait of Marguerite de Valois, afterwards Duchesse de Savoie ; and one of the Dauphin François, Duc d'Angoulème, apparently painted about 1536, when he was dying of a galloping consumption ; besides a lovely portrait of Gabrielle de Rochechouart. The portrait of Marguerite is inscribed, " Agee de 25 ans," i.e., 1548, exactly the date of the Court's journey to Lyons. Corneille painted a second picture of this princess, which is at Versailles, No. 3181. At Versailles also, is the third of the authentic portraits, No. 3147, the beautiful Marquise de Rothelin, Jacqueline de Rohan—the picture much injured by restoration. And the fourth, No. 3292, the Duc de Montpensier—a veritable masterpiece, in excellent preservation. Thanks to these four pictures, and to the light which M. M. de Grandmaison's and Bouchot's researches have thrown on Gaignières and his collection, it is now possible to restore to this extremely interesting master the right to many of the small portraits at Chantilly, Versailles, the Louvre, etc. While at the same time we see that it was impossible that many pictures, wildly attributed to him, were ever painted by Corneille de Lyon.
Among anonymous paintings, or those of artists of whom nothing is known, several at the Louvre, at Versailles, at Chantilly, and in private collections, are of highest importance.
The first is by-
1. Nicholas Froment d'Avignon, working in the 15th century. It is a diptych, containing portraits of King René and his second wife, Jeanne de Laval. And was given by King René to Jean de Matheron.
2. Philippe le Bon, Duc de Bourgogne, école de Bourgogne, 15th century.
3. Ball at the Court of Henri III., given for the marriage of Anne duc de Joyeuse and Marguerite de Lorraine, 15th century.
4. Jacques Berthaut, controleur de la maison du roi, 16th century.
1. Charles VII., No. 3052.
2. Assemblée du Parlement de Bourgogne, tenue par Charles le Téméraire, No. 3070.
3. Charles Quint, young, 3125.
4. Philippe le Beau, roi de Castille, 3106.
5. Guillaume Budé, 4045, etc., etc.
François I., probably still Comte d'Angoulème ; Jeune Femme, école de Corneille de Lyon ; Henri III. with black cap, earrings, white collar, Chantilly.