Friday, February 20, 2015

Jean Clouet

Portrait of Crown Prince Francis III, Duke of Brittany
year unknown
oil on panel
16 x 13 cm
Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, Belgium

Jean Clouet (1480-1541), a miniaturist and painter, was celebrated in his lifetime, but no documented works survive. He was undoubtedly a very skillful portrait painter, although no work in existence has been proved to be his. Paintings attributed to him with very strong probability belong to the school of Flemish naturalism that dominated French portraiture at this time, but the drawings are more personal and often of very high quality. They have often been compared to those of Clouet's contemporary Hans Holbein the Younger, with which they share a keenness of observation; whereas Holbein's drawings are overwhelmingly linear, however, Clouet's are subtly modelled in light and shade with a delicate system of hatching that recalls Leonardo, whose work he could well have known.