Jean Clouet

Jean Clouet

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Jean Clouet (1480–1541) was a miniaturist and painter
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 who worked in France during the Renaissance
French Renaissance
French Renaissance is a recent term used to describe a cultural and artistic movement in France from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that many cultural historians believe originated in northern Italy in the fourteenth century...

. He was the father of François Clouet
François Clouet
François Clouet , son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.-Historical references:Clouet was born in Tours....



Clouet was allegedly born in Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...


The authentic presence of this artist at the French court is first mentioned in 1516, the second year of the reign of Francis I
Francis I of France
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death. During his reign, huge cultural changes took place in France and he has been called France's original Renaissance monarch...

. By a deed of gift made by the king to the artist's son of his father's estate, which had escheated to the crown, we learn that he was not actually a Frenchman, and never naturalized. He is supposed to have been a native of the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, and probably his real name was Clowet. He lived several years in Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

, and there it was he met his wife, who was the daughter of a jeweller.

He is recorded as living in Tours in 1522, and there is a reference to his wife's residence in the same town in 1523. In that year Clouet was awarded the position of Groom of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber
Groom of the Chamber and Groom of the Privy Chamber were positions in the Royal Household of the English monarchy, the latter considerably more elevated. Other Ancien Régime royal establishments in Europe had comparable officers, often with similar titles...

 by the King, with a stipend at first of 180 livres and later of 240. He and his wife were certainly living in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in 1529, probably in the neighborhood of the parish of Ste Innoceth, in the cemetery of whicn they were buried. He stood godfather at a christening on July 8, 1540, but was no longer living in December 1541.

His brother, known as Clouet de Navarre, was in the service of Marguerite d'Angoulême, sister of Francis I, and is referred to in a letter written by Marguerite about 1529. Jean Clouet had two children, François
François Clouet
François Clouet , son of Jean Clouet, was a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, particularly known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.-Historical references:Clouet was born in Tours....

 and Catherine, who married Abel Foulon, and left one son, who continued the profession of François Clouet after his decease.

Jean Clouet was undoubtedly a very skillful portrait painter, although no work in existence has been proved to be his. He painted a portrait of the mathematician Oronce Finé
Oronce Finé
Oronce Fine was a French mathematician and cartographer.-Life:...

 in 1530, when Fine was thirty-six years old, but the portrait is now known only by a print. Janet is generally believed, however, to have been responsible for a very large number of the wonderful portrait drawings now preserved at Chantilly
Château de Chantilly
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantilly, France. It comprises two attached buildings; the Grand Château, destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s, and the Petit Château which was built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency...

, and at the Bibliothèque Nationale, and to him is attributed the portrait of an unknown man at Hampton Court, that of the dauphin Francis, son of Francis I at Antwerp, and one other portrait, that of Francis I in the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...


Seven miniature portraits in the Manuscript of the Gallic War in the Bibliothèque Nationale (13,429) are attributed to Janet with very strong probability, and to these may be added an eighth in the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, and representing Charles I de Cossé, Maréchal de Brissac, identical in its characteristics with the seven already known. There are other miniatures in the collection of Mr Morgan, which may be attributed to Jean Clouet with some strong degree of probability, inasmuch as they closely resemble the portrait drawings at Chantilly and in Paris which are taken to be his work.

The collection of drawings preserved in France, and attributed to this artist and his school, comprises portraits of all the important persons of the time of Francis I. In one album of drawings the portraits are annotated by the king himself, and his merry reflections, stinging taunts or biting satires, add very largely to a proper understanding of the life of his time and court. Definite evidence, however, is still lacking to establish the attribution of the best of these drawings and of certain oil paintings to Jean Clouet.

External links

  • Francis I Monumentality and miniature at Jean Clouet