(b. ca. 1420, Tours, d. 1480, Tours)

Portrait of Guillaume Jouvenel des Ursins

c. 1455
Wood, 93 x 73 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This is the portrait of Fouquet's that most strongly reflects the spirit of the Renaissance. The subject of the portrait was a powerful lord, the Chancellor of France of both Charles VII and Louis XI, one of the leading notabilities of France. The background, composed of Renaissance architecture with lavish gilded panellings inlaid with marble fillings displays an Italian influence. Against this background the monumental figure of the Chancellor kneels in prayer before a lectern, on which a great folio lies open on a cushion of red, white and yellow stripes. The red of his robe, trimmed with brown fur at the neck and sleeves, is reflected in the heavy, fleshy face of the Chancellor, on his thin lips, and on the head, which combines an overall impression of strength, intelligence and extraordinary dignity. The decorative harmony of the red and gold in which his head is framed only serves to enhance the imposing effect of the whole figure. With this portrait Fouquet earns his place as a fit contemporary of the great masters of the Italian Quattrocento, Andrea Mantegna, Piero della Francesca and Antonello da Messina.

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