Alleged Portrait of Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse D'Étampes, Mistress of François I
19th century (painted)
- Materials and Techniques:
Oil on oak panel
- Credit Line:
Bequeathed by John Jones
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
François Clouet (1516-1572) He was a pupil of his father, Jean Clouet (ca.1485-1540/41), whom he succeeded as 'painctre et varlet de chambre' to Francis I in 1540. François Clouet produced a number of portrait drawings, paintings and miniatures of the members of the Valois court but also produced allegorical landscapes. He ran a large and successful studio whose members included many of the most prominent artists of the next generation: Jean Decourt (1572-1585), Marc Duval (ca.1545-1581), Etienne (ca. 1540-1603) and Pierre Dumonstier (ca. 1545-1625), François Quesnel (1543-1619) and Frans Pourbus (1545-1581).
This painting is a copy after an engraving, which imitates the style of official French portraiture in the 16th century, famously represented by François Clouet and his school. The engraving was probably made during the 19th century for illustration purpose or as part of the Gothic revival movement, which praised the late Middle Age and early Renaissance imagery. The sitter has been identified as Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d'Étampes, who was the mistress of King Francis I and play an important politic role during the second half of the 16th century.
Bust length portrait of a lady, wearing a green bodice embroidered with pearls and red stones, a short ruff and puff leaves with finestrelle; her hair enclosed in a red and brow net.
19th century (painted)
Materials and Techniques
Oil on oak panel
Height: 23.5 cm estimate, Width: 17.8 cm estimate
Object history note
Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix-xx
John Jones (1800-1882) was first in business as a tailor and army clothier in London 1825, and opened a branch in Dublin 1840. Often visited Ireland, travelled to Europe and particularly France. He retired in 1850, but retained an interest in his firm. Lived quietly at 95 Piccadilly from 1865 to his death in January 1882. After the Marquess of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Jones was the principal collector in Britain of French 18th century fine and decorative arts. Jones bequeathed an important collection of French 18th-century furniture and porcelain to the V&A, and among the British watercolours and oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A are subjects which reflect his interest in France.
See also South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Jones Collection. With Portrait and Woodcuts. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 11, Henrietta Street. 1884.
Chapter I. Mr. John Jones. pp.1-7.
Chapter II. No.95, Piccadilly. pp.8-44. This gives a room-by-room guide to the contents of John Jones' house at No.95, Piccadilly.
Chapter VI. ..... Pictures,... and other things, p.138, "The pictures which are included in the Jones bequest are, with scarcely a single exception, valuable and good; and many of them excellent works of the artists. Mr. Jones was well pleased if he could collect enough pictures to ornament the walls of his rooms, and which would do no discredit to the extraordinary furniture and other things with which his house was filled."
Historical significance: This painting is a copy after a 19th-century engraving depicting Anne de Pisseleu, Duchess of Étampes. This identification is corroborated by the presence of a label on the back inscribed with 'Anne De Pisseleu/ Duchesse d'Étampes'.
Anne de Pisseleu (1508-1580) was the daughter of a nobleman of Picardy and became the maid of honour to Louise de Savoy (1476-1531), Duchess d'Angoulême and mother of Francis I (1494-1547) before 1522. She soon became the mistress of the King, who married her to Jean de Brosses, whom he created Duke d'Étampes. She was a political figure in France and the major supporter of the party of the Duke d'Orléans in opposition to that of the dauphin (the future Henry II).
In the present painting, her hair are enclosed in a net while she wears a green bodice embroidered with pearls and red stones, puffed leaves with finestrelle, characteristic of the 1560s French fashion. The copy is almost identical to the engraving apart from the missing large pearl necklace.
The style of this portrait with clear lines and great accuracy, imitates French portraiture of the 16th century, especially that of François Clouet who was the most authoritative portrait painter of the Valois court. As an important member of the court, Anne de Pisseleu was painted several times. There is one depicting her as a young girl by the Flemish painter Corneille de Lyon (act. 1533-1575), Metropolitan Museum, New York (29.100.97) and other two by François Clouet in the Museum of Versailles and in the Musée Condé, Chantilly.
Historical context note
In his encyclopaedic work, Historia Naturalis, the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder described the origins of painting in the outlining of a man's projected shadow in profile. In the ancient period, profile portraits were found primarily in imperial coins. With the rediscovery and the increasing interest in the Antique during the early Renaissance, artists and craftsmen looked back to this ancient tradition and created medals with profile portraits on the obverse and personal devise on the reverse in order to commemorate and celebrate the sitter. Over time these profile portraits were also depicted on panels and canvas, and progressively evolved towards three-quarter and eventually frontal portraits.
These portraits differ in many ways from the notion of portraiture commonly held today as they especially aimed to represent an idealised image of the sitter and reflect therefore a different conception of identity. The sitter's likeness was more or less recognisable but his particular status and familiar role were represented in his garments and attributes referring to his character. The 16th century especially developed the ideal of metaphorical and visual attributes through the elaboration of highly complex portrait paintings in many formats including at the end of the century full-length portraiture. Along with other devices specific to the Italian Renaissance such as birth trays (deschi da parto) and wedding chests' decorated panels (cassoni or forzieri), portrait paintings participated to the emphasis on the individual.
Portrait paintings were still fashionable during the following centuries and extended to the rising bourgeoisie and eventually to common people, especially during the social and political transformations of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, painted portraits were challenged and eventually supplanted by the development of new media such as photography.
Oil Painting, 'Alleged Portrait of Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse D'Étampes, Mistress of François I', artist unknown; 19th century imitation of 16th century French School
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 117, cat. no. 130
The following is the full text of the entry:
Manner of French School, 16th century
ALLEGED PORTRAIT OF ANNE DE PISSELEU, DUCHESSE D'ÉTAMPES (?1508- ?1576), MISTRESS OF FRANÇOIS I.
9 ¼ x 7 (23.5 x 17.8)
A 19th century imitation; label on back inscribed 'Anne De Pisseleu/ Duchesse d'Étampes',
Prov. John Jones; bequeathed to the Museum in 1882.
Lit. Long, Cat. Jones Coll., 1923, p. 54 ('a weak production of the 19th century').
B.S. Long, Catalogue of the Jones Collection, London, 1923, p. 54.
Oil paint; Oak
Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d'Étampes