Jean Fouquet – Late Gothic Artist

Jean (or Jehan) Fouquet (1420–1481) was a preeminent French painter of the 15th century, a master of both panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature. He was

the first French artist to travel to Italy and experience first-hand the early Italian Renaissance.

Jean Fouquet, self-portrait (1450). The earliest portrait miniature, and possibly the earliest formal self-portrait.

Jean Fouquet seems to be using a lot of royal blues and red, which makes his paintings looks neat. My personal favourite piece by him is Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels. I love the way he used bright colours for the background and the clothes which makes the skin tones of the virgin and the child look extremely pale. I also like the story behind it – the woman in the painting is King Charles VII’s mistress Agnès Sorel, who was the first officially recognized royal mistress.

Virgin and Child
Left wing of the Melun Diptych depicts Etienne Chevalier with his patron saint St. Stephen, Berlin

 

Marriage of Charles IV and Marie of Luxembourg
Portrait of the Chancellor of France, Guillaume Jouvenel des Ursins, Musée du Louvre, Paris

Fun Facts!

  • Jean Fouquet worked for the French court, including Charles VII, the treasurer Étienne Chevalier, and the chancellor Guillaume Jouvenel des Ursins. Near the end of his career, he became court painter to Louis XI.
  • His self-portrait miniature would be the earliest sole self-portrait surviving in Western art, if the 1433 portrait by Jan van Eyck—usually called Portrait of a Man or Portrait of a Man in a Turban—is not in fact a self-portrait, as some art historians believe.