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Portrait of Elizabeth of Austria, Wife of King Charles IX of France, by a Follower of François Clouet

Emily B. Collins, MPhil
Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2010;12(4):280-281. doi:10.1001/archfacial.2010.41.
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François Clouet (1516/20-1572) was given the official appointment of court painter to the French court in 1541, following the death of his father Jean, who had held the position before him. Clouet was a court painter through 4 different reigns, beginning with that of King François I. As a court painter (there was more than 1 artist who held this position at a time), Clouet had a wide range of responsibilities. The lowest of these would have been decoration. Clouet painted banners, panels of the royal coach, and decorated trophies.1(pi)The responsibility of painting portraits of the royal family, as Clouet had done, would have been a special honor for any court painter; however, Clouet was twice chosen for perhaps the greatest honor. On the deaths of both François I and Henri II, Clouet was chosen to make their death masks.2(pp126)This honor illustrates how much Clouet was trusted by the royal family and the nation of France. Today there is considerable debate regarding attribution of Clouet's paintings. Many of the works that are thought to have been painted by him were actually produced by lesser artists from drawings he made. The painting seen herein is one such work. Another portrait that is directly attributed to Clouet, of Elizabeth of Austria, is in the collection of the Louvre in Paris. Preparatory sketches in chalk, from which both paintings were likely made, are in the Cabinet of Prints in Paris and are marked with the date of 1571.2(p200)

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Follower of François Clouet (1516/20-1572). Portrait of Elizabeth of Austria, Wife of King Charles IX of France,1571. Oil on panel. 14⅛ × 107/16in. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mrs Lillian S. Timken. 1951.317. Photograph by Robert Hashimoto.

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