Portrait of the Dauphin Francis, Son of Francis I
After the painting in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp (cat. no. 33)
Workshop of Jean Clouet, French, c. 1475 - 1540/41
As eldest son of the king of France and heir to the throne, the boy in this painting held the title of dauphin. In the medallion on his hat appears Saint Francis, namesake of the dauphin and his father, Francis I. When Francis I was taken prisoner by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V he exchanged the dauphin for his own freedom. The boy's grandmother reportedly sent a portrait similar to this one to Catherine of Aragon, the Spanish Queen of England, hoping she would use her influence with the Spanish Emperor to obtain the release of the young boy. The dauphin was nevertheless held hostage for years and only released after his father raised enough gold to buy his freedom.