Henry III (1551–1589), King of France

Artist: Style of François Clouet (French, 1578 or later)

Medium: Vellum laid on wood

Dimensions: 2 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (58 x 44 mm)

Classification: Miniatures

Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Clark Thompson, 1923

Accession Number: 24.80.512

Not on view
Some authorities have been inclined to believe that the frame is a late-sixteenth-century one and that therefore the information on it should be given credence. However, the date 1575 given on the frame is inconsistent with the attribution of the portrait to François Clouet, who died in 1572. Furthermore, since the Order of the Saint Esprit was not revived until 1578, its emblem on a frame dated 1575 is anachronistic. The fact that the sitter is wearing the blue ribbon of that order establishes a date of 1578 or later for this miniature, and it cannot therefore be by François Clouet. Although apparently a late-sixteenth-century production, it is carried out in a weak version of Clouet's style.

The identity of the sitter appears to be confirmed by comparison with a Clouet school drawing in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (Fonds Ste.-Geneviève, no. 118; reproduced in Étienne Moreau-Nélaton, Les Clouets et leurs émules, [Paris, 1924], vol. 2, fig. 283; vol. 3, p. 77).

Henry III (1551–1589), the third son of Henry II (1519–1559) and Catherine de Médicis (1519–1589), succeeded his brother Charles IX as king of France in 1574. Indolent, vicious, and corrupt, he was under the influence of his mother and before his accession had helped her organize the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Day. The monk Jacques Clément stabbed him in 1589 to avenge the murders of Henry, duc de Guise, and his brother. Henry III was the last of the house of Valois.

[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Inscribed (reverse, on wood): Henry 3me / Roy de / France [?85]; by Clouet
Mary Clark Thompson, New York and Canandaigua, New York (until d. 1923)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 2.

Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 12, 68, no. 2, ill.