Multiple artists

French Renaissance Court Album

About this artwork

Within this extraordinary album, we find 31 portrait drawings depicting King Francis I of France, his family and court. These carefully observed studies reflect the artistic concerns of the Renaissance, a European-wide cultural movement spanning the 14th–16th centuries that consciously sought to revive the achievements of classical antiquity. The drawings show naturalistic representations of infants, children, men and women, while the clothing and accessories have been captured in swiftly sketched outlines. 

The album emphasises the ties between Scotland and France in this period. It includes a portrait of the young princess, Madeleine of France, future bride of King James V of Scotland. The album also holds portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots’ French relatives, including her mother-in-law, the formidable Catherine de’ Medici. These drawings give us a wonderful insight into the individuals who surrounded Mary during her childhood in France. Many of the drawings are associated with the Flemish artist Jean Clouet and his workshop. Clouet moved to France where he was commissioned by the king to portray the royal family. The drawings in this album are versions of the originals preserved in the Musée Condé, Chantilly, France. 

Published December 2022

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Jean Clouet

Jean Clouet