Guillaume Budé (1467–1540)

Artist: Jean Clouet (French, active by 1516–died 1540/41 Paris)

Date: ca. 1536

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 15 5/8 x 13 1/2 in. (39.7 x 34.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1946

Accession Number: 46.68


Painter to King Francis I, Jean Clouet played a key role in establishing the Renaissance portraiture tradition in France, yet this is his only extant painted portrait. It depicts Guillaume Budé, librarian to Francis I and the leading humanist of sixteenth-century France. Similar to the sitter in Metsys’s Portrait of a Woman (32.100.47), Budé’s fingers hold his page, as if interrupted. With the quill in his right hand, he has written in Greek, "While it seems to be good to get what one desires, the greatest good is not to desire what one does not need" (Joannes Stobaeus, 3.5.18).