Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, School of Fontainebleau, and Diane de Poitiers, with Footnotes. #9

The Ecole de Fontainebleau (c.1530–c.1610) refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered on the royal Château de Fontainebleau, that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism.

School of Fontainebleau, (c.1530–c.1610)
Woman at her Toilette, c. 1550-1570
Oil on panel
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.

The subject of this work- identified variously as Diane de Poitiers, Mary, Queen of Scots, and other figures of royalty- remains unconfirmed. Several variants of this composition exist, supporting the theory that a famous prototype must have been their common inspiration.

 Anonymous from the School of Fontainebleau
Lady at her toilet, late 16th century
Oil painting on canvas 
Height: 105 cm; Width: 76 cm
 Museum of Fine Arts of Dijon

The Lady at her Toilet" meets all the criteria of beauty of the school of Fontainebleau : generous body to the little waistline and chest high, face with regular features, a straight nose to the small mouth and eyebrows. Glowing skin, blonde hair of golden shine, dark eyes. Capped with pearls, scarcely dressed in a transparent veil held by a collar embroidered with gold, she adorns herself, while behind her her maidservant seeks clothes in a chest. 

Her almost frontal bust curiously emerges behind a tablet on which are placed the cushion on which the lady rests her arm, a comb, a jewel box, flowers and a sumptuous mirror carried by statuettes without arms. The distant gaze, the lady carries to her breast a left hand which plays with the pendant of her necklace, while her right hand holds a ring with a precious gesture. More

MASTER of the Fontainebleau School, (second half of the 16th century)
Diane de Poitiers, c. 1590
Tempera on wood
115 x 98,5 cm
Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

The painting shows Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of King Henry II of France before her mirror. 

Diane de Poitiers (3 September 1499 – 25 April 1566) was a French noblewoman and a prominent courtier at the courts of king Francis I and his son, King Henry II of France. She became notorious as King Henry's favourite. Because of this, she wielded much influence and power at the French Court, which continued until Henry was mortally wounded in a tournament accident. It was during this tournament that his lance wore her favour (ribbon) rather than his wife's.

MASTER of the Fontainebleau School
Portrait of Gabrielle d'Estrées with her Sister, c. 1590s
Oil on wood
129 x 97 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

This and a more frankly erotic version in the Louvre (below) are generally described as portraits of Gabrielle d'Estrées. She was the great love of King Henri IV, who had intended to marry her - hence the gesture toward the ring finger. Though nudity had auspicious overtones of fertility and was a more socially acceptable state than it is in today's Western culture, this painting was certainly meant to arouse. More

Fontainbleau, the famous French royal residence, was the site of great artistic activity in the mid-sixteenth century during the rule of Francis I. Developed at this court and nearly unique to it was the concept of a boudoir portrait, depicting the sitter in intimate circumstances. The Worcester panel has been connected specifically with François Clouet (about 1510-72), who served as court painter at Fontainbleau under both Francis I and Charles IV. Clouet was greatly influenced by Italian Mannerist portraiture with its emphasis on refined elegance and a great clarity and precision of draftsmanship. More

School of Fontainebleau, attributed to François Clouet
Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d'Estrées et de sa soeur la duchesse de Villars, c. 1594
Oil on oak panel
Height: 96 cm (37.8 in). Width: 125 cm (49.2 in).
Louvre Museum, Paris

Gabrielle d'Estrées, Duchess of Beaufort and Verneuil, Marchioness of Monceaux (1573 – 10 April 1599) was a mistress, confidante and adviser of Henry IV of France. She persuaded Henry to renounce Protestantism in favour of Catholicism in 1593. Later she urged French Catholics to accept the Edict of Nantes, which granted certain rights to the Protestants. It was legally impossible for the king to marry her, because he was already married to Margaret of Valois, but he acknowledged Gabrielle as the mother of three of his children, and as "the subject most worthy of our friendship".

After applying to Pope Clement VIII for an annulment of his marriage and authority to remarry, in March 1599 Henry gave his mistress his coronation ring. Gabrielle, so sure that the wedding would take place, stated, "Only God or the king's death could put an end to my good luck".[ A few days later, on 9 April, she suffered an attack of eclampsia and gave birth to a stillborn son. King Henry was at the Château de Fontainebleau when news arrived of her illness. The next day, 10 April 1599, while Henry was on his way to her, she died in Paris.   More

MASTER of the Fontainebleau School
Allegory of the Birth of the Dauphin, c. 1560
Oil on panel
91 x 125 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Allegory of the Birth of the Dauphin by Master Of the Fontainebleau school, painted in 1560, is an example of a mythological painting which demonstrates the technique of oil on panel. Mythological paintings, were categorized within historical paintings and therefore the most prestigious by the French Académie de peinture et de sculpture.They depict a mythological scene rather than a specific, static subject, such as a portrait. They are often large in size incredibly detailed. More

In 1531, the Florentine artist Rosso Fiorentino, having lost most of his possessions at the Sack of Rome in 1527, was invited by François I to come to France, where he began an extensive decorative program for the Château de Fontainebleau. In 1532 he was joined by another Italian artist, Francesco Primaticcio (from Bologna). On the advice of Primaticcio, Niccolò dell'Abbate (from Modena) was invited to France in 1552 by François's son Henri II. Although known for their work at Fontainebleau, these artists were also invited to create works of art for other noble families of the period and were much esteemed and well-paid.

School of Fontainebleau, attributed to CLOUET, François, (1510 - 1572)
A Lady in Her Bath, c. 1571
Oil on wood
92 x 81 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Only two signed paintings by François Clouet are known to exist, of which this, generally regarded as one of the great masterpieces of the French Renaissance art, is one. The subject, shown seated in her bath, traditionally was believed to be the famous beauty, Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566), a favourite of Henry II and virtual ruler of France. However, this identification is now rejected, and the dating, placed either in the 1550s or around 1571 is debated. Other candidates for the identity of the sitter are Mary Stuart (Mary, Queen of Scots) and Marie Touchet, mistress to Charles IX. More

The painting shows a a family scene involving the mother, sitting in her wooden chestnut bathtub . She wears a tiara and pearls on her forehead. In the background a curtain which reverses the perspective, a nurse with coarse features nursing a swaddled infant. In the background, at the bottom of the chamber a servant carrying a large pot of hot water for bathing. The allegorical analysis of many details (ironic presence of the unicorn, fruit cup, a symbol of sensual indulgence with the bunch of grapes, official sign of temporal power) suggests that the topless woman is Mary whose sentimental differences were the laughing stock of Europe. The painting may have been ordered by a Protestant wanting to make a political satire of the queen with her nudity and derogatory clutching a red carnation (symbol of her many engagements). The painting could also be an allegory of the three theological virtues: the child would be hope, the nurse would be the nurturing faith and the nude woman, charity.  More

After François Clouet (1515–1572)
Lady in bath (Portrait of Diane de Poitiers), circa 1571
Oil on panel
92.1 × 81.3 cm (36.3 × 32 in)
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

The bather is seated in her tub, which is lined with a white cloth and hung on both sides with regal crimson curtains to ward off the cold. Her left hand draws back the bath sheet revealing the artist's name inscribed below, while her right hand rests on a covered board that displays a sumptuously rendered still life. Slightly behind the bather a young boy reaches for some grapes as a smiling wet nurse suckles a baby. In the background, a maid is seen holding a metal pitcher of bath water as more water is heated in the fireplace. The allusion is to a happy, healthy home. More

The works of this "first school of Fontainebleau" are characterized by the extensive use of stucco and frescos, and an elaborate system of allegories and mythological iconography. Renaissance decorative motifs such as grotesques, strapwork and putti are common, as well as a certain degree of eroticism. The figures are elegant and show the influence of the techniques of the Italian Mannerism of Michelangelo, Raphael and especially Parmigianino. Primaticcio was also directed to make copies of antique Roman statues for the king, thus spreading the influence of classical statuary. 

MASTER of the Fontainebleau School
Diane de Poitiers, c. 1590
Tempera on wood
115 x 98,5 cm
Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

Many of the works of Rosso, Primaticcio and dell'Abate have not survived; parts of the Chateau were remodelled at various dates. The paintings of the group were reproduced in prints, mostly etchings, which were apparently produced initially at Fontainebleau itself, and later in Paris. These disseminated the style through France and beyond, and also record several paintings that have not survived.

Jan Matsys (1509–1575)
Bathsheba Observed by King David, first half of 16th century
An idealised portrait of Diane de Poitiers
Oil on panel
Height: 110 cm (43.3 in). Width: 76 cm (29.9 in).
Private collection

Jan Massijs or Jan Matsys (c.1510, Antwerp – 8 October 1575, Antwerp) was a Flemish Renaissance painter known for his history paintings, genre scenes and landscapes.

He was the son of leading Antwerp painter Quinten Matsys and the older brother of Cornelis, who became a painter and engraver. He trained under his father. He was admitted, together with his brother, as a master in the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke in 1531, a year after their father's death. It is assumed that he left Antwerp immediately thereafter and worked for a while in Fontainebleau, but these facts are not firmly established. He was back in Antwerp by 1536.

In 1544 Jan and his brother Cornelis were banned from Antwerp because of their religious beliefs. It is possible that Jan returned to Fontainebleau and Germany. It is certain that he spent time in Genoa. He returned to Antwerp before the end of 1555 when the ban imposed on him was ended. 

He had been sufficiently rehabilitated for the local city council to commission several works from him. These works were destroyed in 1576 when Spanish troops set the city hall on fire during the Spanish Fury and the Sack of Antwerp. Jan Massijs had died the year before having been reduced to a state bordering on poverty. More.

The mannerist style of the Fontainebleau school influenced French artists (with whom the Italians worked) such as the painter Jean Cousin the Elder, the sculptors Jean Goujon and Germain Pilon, and, to a lesser degree, the painter and portraitist François Clouet the son of Jean Clouet.

Primaticcio, from the French school of Fontainebleau
Portrait of Diane de Poitiers as "Diane the Huntress"
painted at Chenonceau in 1556, France

From 1584 to 1594, during the Wars of Religion the château of Fontainebleau was abandoned. Upon his accession to the throne, Henri IV undertook a renovation of the Fontainebleau buildings using a group of artists: the Flemish born Ambroise Dubois (from Antwerp) and the Parisians Toussaint Dubreuil and Martin Fréminet. They are sometimes referred to as the "second school of Fontainebleau". Their late mannerist works, many of which have been lost, continue in the use of elongated and undulating forms and crowded compositions. Many of their subjects include mythological scenes and scenes from works of fiction by the Italian Torquato Tasso and the ancient Greek novelist Heliodorus of Emesa.

Their style would continue to have an influence on artists through the first decades of the 17th century, but other artistic currents (Peter Paul Rubens, Caravaggio, the Dutch and Flemish naturalist schools) would soon eclipse them.   More

Acknowledgement: Wikipedia

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