Clouet. A family of painters descended from Jan Cloet 'the Elder' (b.c.1420), a Fleming who came to France c.1460. Almost nothing is known for certain of his life and works.

The more famous Jean Clouet (d.1540/1) is thought to have been his son. He was celebrated in his lifetime, but no documented works survive.

Jean's son, François (circa 1510-72), succeeded him as court painter in 1541. His work is somewhat better documented than his father's, but his career is still very obscure. They used the same nickname, 'Janet', which has caused much confusion, and one of the finest works attributed to him, the celebrated portrait of Francis I in the Louvre, showing the king in a lavish gold doublet, has also been given to Jean.

 A handful of portraits are attributed to Jean Clouet on fairly strong circumstantial evidence. The paintings belong to the school of Flemish naturalism that dominated French portraiture at this time, but the drawings are more personal and often of very high quality. They have often been compared to those of Clouet's contemporary Hans Holbein 'the Younger', with which they share a keenness of observation; whereas Holbein's drawings are overwhelmingly linear, however, Clouet's are subtly modeled in light and shade with a delicate system of hatching that recalls Leonardo, whose work he could well have known. François Clouet, too, was mainly a portraitist. A number of drawings, mostly in the Musée Condé, are also attributed to him.


Jean Clouet - "Guillaume Budé" (circa 1536) Oil on wood, 39.7 x 34.3 cm - 15.6 x 13.5 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.



François/Jean Clouet - "Portrait of François I, King of France" (1525-30) Wood, 96 x 74 cm - 37.8 x 29.1 in. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.



François Clouet - "Charles IX of France" Oil on wood. Metz Museum, France.



François Clouet - "Louis de Saint-Gelais " Wood. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.

Text source: 'Webmuseum' (

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