COUSIN, Jean the Elder
(b. ca. 1495, Soucy, d. ca. 1560, Paris)


Drawing on vellum with watercolour highlights
École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

This drawing shows the gold vessel presented to Henri II on the occasion of his entry into Paris in 1549. This vessel is known only from this drawing. Like all such "entry" gifts, this one was rich in allegorical and political meaning. To evoke dynastic continuity, the upper level bore figurines of the three predecessors of Henri II arrayed around a palm tree and dressed as emperors, below which, separated by harpies, were seated personifications of the Virtues exemplified by these princes. The base incorporated claws, lion heads, and monstrous masks, all symbolizing Vices.