The story of the French Renaissance is a fascinating, yet often overlooked, tale. At its heart sits François I, a Renaissance prince through and through, with the desire, means and commitment to bring France into the modern age of art. Furthermore, like the other leaders of the day, he fully understood art to be a political weapon par excellence. The astonishingly bold and grand Fontainbleau is the site of his greatest cultural ambitions and the first part of our talk will centre around this project.
Inspired by her father-in-law, and the blood of her family coursing through her veins, Catherine de Medici picks up François’ baton and takes the art of the French royal family in a completely new direction. This time, reflecting new tastes across Europe and rivalling the patronage of Elizabeth I in England, Catherine de Medici worked closely with portrait painters – in particular François Clouet, one of the most talented artists of the day.