Jean Decourt Miniature of Henri III Uncovered at Auction

January 26 2021

Image of Jean Decourt Miniature of Henri III Uncovered at Auction

Picture: The Independent

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Several news outlets have reported on news of a recently uncovered miniature of Henri III of France. This signed and dated miniature by Jean Decourt was discovered by the London art dealer Philip Mould at auction last year.

Most of the newspapers seem to gone with the headlines which draw attention to the King's more eccentric interest in women's fashion. Reports also explain that the art dealer is currently trying to sell the miniature to the Louvre Museum, as it is likely that the portrait was produced within this royal residence in 1578.

Update - A reader had been in touch to pose the following question regarding the miniature:

Just to say, as you will know, there is a Nicholas Hilliard miniature of Henri III in the Djangoly collection which was shown in the Elizabethan Treasures exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.  Done  sometime 1576-78 when NH in France. Shows a younger, smarter Henri III. No-one seems to have mentioned the similarities and differences between these two. It is obvious that the Decourt shows him as older and more dissolute looking. His hairline is different, receding maybe and his ruff makes his head look abit stuck on.  Is it likely that Decourt knew the Hilliard miniature and adapted bits of it 20 years later?  


In the NH Henri III wears on his chain a pendant of St. Michel - just before he founded the Saint Esprit. Cant see any orders on the Decourt when he would have been wearing the Saint-Esprit.

I posed the query to miniatures expert Emma Rutherford who kindly supplied the following answer:

The Hilliard and Decourt portraits of Henri III were painted within 2 years of each other. Both artists were at the French court at the same time - Hilliard was in the service of the King's younger brother and Decourt employed by the King himself. The likely date for the Hilliard portrait is late 1576 - but Hilliard was still in France in 1578 when this portrait of Henri was painted by Decourt. The order of the Saint-Espirit was founded by Henri 31st December 1578 so that explains its absence in both of these portraits. In the portrait of the king by Hilliard the order of St Michael is just visible. The Decourt still has the original gold border and has not been trimmed.

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