This striking portrait is of Marguerite de Navarre, also known as Marguerite of Angoulème. She was the sister of the French king Francis I.
Note the green parrot perched on her right hand.
The painting is attributed to Jean Clouet, thought to be originally from the Lowlands, probably Flanders, but relocated to France and worked for the French court.
The drawing alongside is also of Marguerite de Navarre, produced later in her life by François Clouet, son of Jean. Francois was known for his portraits of the French ruling family and court members. Note the lap dog.
Giorgio Vasari combined elements of both artworks to create the identity of Marguerite of Angoulème for his fresco depicting the marriage of Henry, the second son of Francis I, to Catherine de’s Medici.
Marguerite is the woman in the centre of the group shown below.
In this scenario, the head on the left represents Gaston de Foix, said to be Marguerite’s one real love in life. He died in the Battle of Ravenna fighting for the French against combined Spanish and Papal forces. His unfinished tomb is located in Sforza Castle, Milan, and so makes the connection to the head’s principal identity, Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Note the similarity to the head of the effigy on Gaston’s tomb, to the head given to Galeazzo by Vasari.
A third identity attributed to the woman opposite Galeazzo is his wife Bona of Savoy. Two other identities are Maria Salviati and Fioretta Gorini.
Bona connects with another identity to the central woman, Teresa of Avila, as explained in a previous post. Vasari made two connections to these two women – the locations Avila and Angoulème. Bona, Duchess of Milan was born in Avigliana, Turin. The name Angoulème puns with the angle formed by Galeazzo’s nose.
Marguerite makes a connection with Teresa of Avila. The writings and actions of the Spanish Carmelite were seen as part of the Catholic Revival against the growing Protestant Reformation movement in Europe that influenced Marguerite and her writings, particularly her poem Mirror of the Sinful Soul. Note the head of a dog – a bloodhound – over Marguerite’s chest. Perhaps a reference to Cerebus, the dog associated with Hades, but countered by the Dominican Order’s symbol of the “hound of the Lord”, and so another pointer to Botticelli’s Primavera and its similar symbolism.
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