|First School of Fontainebleau, circa 1575
Portrait of the duc d'Anjou, (1554-84), suitor to Elizabeth I of England;
Oil on panel
441 x 27 1/2 inches; 112 x 70 cm.
Painted between 1572 and 1578.
The sitter was portrayed in two recent films: Elizabeth (1998), as the outrageous duc d'Anjou, played by Vincent Cassel; and in La Reine Margot (1994), as the duc d'Alençon, played by Julien Rassam.
The fourth son of Henri II of France (1519-59) and Catherine de Medici (1519-84), d'Alençon was proposed as suitable husband for Queen Elizabeth I of England, who called him her 'little frog'. The suit lasted ten years and was by far the most serious foreign courtship of Elizabeth's reign, but failed due to complex political events and alliances.
This portrait is certainly by an artist working in the circle of François Clouet (1516-72), court portrait painter to the Valois monarchy and the nobility. Its style and date place it within a small group of Clouet's direct followers, among whom Jean Decourt is the most likely candidate.