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Panel Painting François I, King of France

Object number
Unknown artist
Production date
Early 16th century
1515 - 1519
Oil Paint
height: 350mm
width: 215mm
height (frame): 445mm
width (frame): 310mm
Burlington House - (on display)
    Probably painted in François’s lifetime, c 1515–19, based on a portrait type created while he was still beardless. The painting and its integral surround are on a single panel, cut from a vertical board, taken from an oak tree felled after AD 1499, probably in the eastern Baltic region of Europe. The panel was probably prepared for use between 1499 and 1531 and painted soon after preparation.

    François d’Angoulême (1494–1547), King of France (1515–47) is depicted against a green damask background. Beneath a red, fur-trimmed gown, he wears a heavy cloth-of-gold tunic, deeply slashed at the chest and encrusted with gems along the neckline. Prominently placed on the brim of François’ hat is an oval gilt enseigne with a male figure in a classicising contraposto pose, thought to represent Hercules, the character from Greek mythology with whom the king was closely identified. François’s raised right hand is poised in a demonstrative gesture, whilst his left hand appears to be holding a gilded ball, presumably the pommel of a sword.

    There can be no doubt as to the sitter’s identity. Numerous depictions of François, in drawings, manuscripts and engravings, as well as on medals, in sculpture and in a handful of paintings, constitute a good record of his appearance throughout his lifetime.