Portrait of Marguerite of Navarre

Jean Clouet, 1527 about

WAG 1308

About this object

Marguerite (1492-1549) was the sister of King Francis I of France. The painting may be by his court artist Jean Clouet, who portrayed the King against a similar background (Louvre, Paris).

The cupid brooch on her hat and ring suggest the portrait may celebrate her marriage to the King of Navarre in 1527. The meaning of the bird, a rose-ringed parakeet, is uncertain. It could symbolise marital chastity, eloquence or have a family significance: a similar bird is found in another portrait of her brother by Clouet. The golden knots on her headdress resemble daisies - marguerites in French.

In 1816 William Roscoe thought this painting was a portrait of a Florentine lady by Leonardo da Vinci. The enigmatic smile of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa may have influenced the French court artist who painted this portrait. Both Leonardo and his famous painting were at the French court when Marguerite was there as a young woman.

The portrait was first identified as Marguerite by the German art historian, Passavant, who visited Roscoe in Lodge Lane, Liverpool, only days before he died in 1831. It was first attributed to Clouet in 1836 by Thomas Winstanley, the dealer from whom Roscoe bought many of his paintings.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    Portrait of a Lady with a Parrot; Portrait of Marguerite d'Angouleme, duchess d'Angoulême, Queen of Navarre; Portrait of Marguerite de Valois; Portrait of a Florentine Lady; Portrait of Marguerite of Angoulême, duchess of Alençon, Queen of Navarre
  • Artist(s)
    Attributed to Jean Clouet (South Netherlandish, born:1485 about, died:1540-07 - 1541-11 burial)
    Polet Clouet (born:unknown, died:unknown)
    French School (French, born:unknown, died:unknown)
  • Date
    1527 about
  • Materials
    Oil paint; Hardwood; Oak
  • Measurements
    62 cm x 52.5 cm x 1 cm; framed: 85.5 x 76.9 x 8.5 cm
  • Physical description
    Woman set against a red pomegranate-brocaded background and wearing 16th-century dress with slashed sleeves, jewelled hair-net and hat set at an angle and holding on her right hand a Rose-ringed green parakeet (Psittacula Krameri). She places her other hand on a green-draped ledge in front of her.
  • Related people
    Jean Clouet (Artist/maker) ; Polet Clouet (Artist/maker) ; Peter Crompton (Previous owner) ; French School (Artist/maker) ; Liverpool Royal Institution (Previous owner) ; William Roscoe (Previous owner) ; William Woodburn (Previous owner) ; John Woollett (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 1308; John Mills Photography Number: JM71 4189-1
  • Credit line
    Presented to the Walker Art Gallery by the Liverpool Royal Institution in 1948
  • Location
    Walker Art Gallery, Room 01, 1.2
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Liverpool Royal Institution

    Owned from: 1819
    How acquired: Presented
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Peter Crompton

    Owned from: 1816-09-28
    How acquired: Purchased at Roscoe's sale auctioned at Winstanley's, Liverpool lot 75.
    Owned until: 1819
    Disposal method: Donation
  • William Roscoe

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1816-09-28
    Disposal method: Auction (Winstanley's, Liverpool) lot 75
  • William Woodburn

    Owned from: 1813-05-08
    How acquired: Purchased for £21
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • John Woollett

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1813-05-08
    Disposal method: Auction (Christie's, London) Sold to William Woodburn
Object view = Fine Art
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