Two full-length miniatures in the Louvre Museum : an example of cabinet painting in France

Director of research : Pr. Sabine Frommel
100 p.
Presented in front of a jury on May 30th – grade : 19/20

 

Subject of the research :
The analysis of two cabinet paintings probably  representing Charles de Balsac d’Entragues, baron de Dunes and Paul de Stuer de Caussade, marquis de Saint-Mégrin. Both are high favourites of Henri III.
1578 ; watercolour, bodycolour and gold on velum on card on wooden panel, frame dated 19th century ;  around 17×11,5cm ; Paris, Louvre museum (Mi 1096 and 1097)

Fig 1 Fig 3

Goals of the research :

  • Reconsidering Hélène Adhémar’s attribution to an artist close to Nicholas Hilliard
  • Establishing an iconographic study and dating
  • Opening the reflection on the typology of cabinet painting : where does it come from ? Who was it made for ? Where was it exhibited or preserved ?
  • Opening the reflection on a diffusion of this type in England through the series of Nicholas Hilliard

 

Results of the research :

  • There are some difficulties in identifying these two lords of Henri III’s court. One of the portraits was however already identified in the 17th century, the marquis de Saint-Mégrin.
  • The death of the marquis de Saint-Mégrin on July 21st 1578 gives a terminus ante quem for the realization of both these portraits. This dating has been confirmed through a fashion analysis : this type of ruff both of the lords wear appears at French court in 1578.
  • Regarding the attribution to an artist « autour de Nicholas Hilliard », this one may be confirmed by the use of some technical skills that were back then specific to the English miniaturist like the use of coloured resin on gold for the hat of Charles de Balsac d’Entragues and the treatment of the white stockings. We know through a description of Blaise de Vigenère that Hilliard sometimes worked with an audience. Nevertheless, no written source tells us that he had an apprentice in France. Besides, this would have been very hard for the goldsmith to achieve as being so shortly in France.
  • These two portraits may have been made by two different artists, thanks to the strong difference of quality between them.
  • The composition of these two full length-portraits are literally copied on François Clouet’s. It can be traced back to an Italiano-Flemish origins : Anthonis Mor and Jacob Seisenegger for the Flemish influence, the Venetian-Lombard school for the Italian one.
  • Nicholas Hilliard was certainly familiar with François Clouet’s composition. He was well aware of the evolution of Flemish art. Both these influences are capital in the making of the cabinet paintings of the years 1580-1595. Through an analysis of the costume, the Young man among roses has been dated around 1580-1585. An analysis of Hilliard’s miniatures shows similarities with the Flemish way of treating landscape (Guillim Scrots, Marcus Gheerarts the Younger).

This research is non-exhaustive and the last two parts of this essay show some weaknesses as the time required to present it prevented us to give a full analysis, especially regarding the influences of Hilliard’s work. This analysis shall be achieved in the final thesis to be presented on June 2017.


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