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Jean Fouquet

(1420 - 1481) 

French Painter and Illuminator of the Renaissance

Cause of Death - unknown


One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

Jean Fouquet was born in Tours, France in the year 1420. He was born with a curious and adventurous spirit and traveled widely. During the reign of French monarch King Charles VII, Fouquet was commissioned to paint The Melun Diptych. The artist used Charles favorite mistress as the model for the Virgin Mary.

Jean Fouquet was an illuminator and portrait-painter, his detailed realism set him apart from the primitive riffraff that populated the French art world in the 15th century.. His striking originality was apparent from the beginning. Fouquet produced exceptionally detailed compositions. Fouquet traveled to Italy and painted Pope Eugenius IV. Upon returning to France he was awarded the prestigious position of court painter to King Louis XI. The old monarch adored his sensitive, lyrical style. Jean Fouquet's greatness derived from his ability to portray gracefulness and loving human relationships. His industrious workshop focused on manuscript illumination and small, intimate panel paintings . His shrewd marketing abilities generated steady, lucrative commissions until his untimely death. He is considered one the greatest French Renaissance painters of all time. 

His subjects, like his predecessors, are all religious – the Virgin Mary, the Life of Christ, the Apostles, Angeles and the Life of St. Francis.

The Renaissance marks the ascendancy of individualism and the uncompromising prominence of the individual.  Artists of the Renaissance were raised up in social standing and their artworks was no longer looked upon as simple handicrafts, but as divinely inspired creations.  G.K. Chesterton, author of Saint Thomas Aquinas, asserted “Nobody can understand the greatness of the thirteenth century, who does not realize that it was a great growth of new things produced by a living thing. In that sense it was really bolder and freer than what we call the renaissance, which was a resurrection of old things discovered in a dead thing... and the Gospel according to St. Thomas... was a new thrust like the titanic thrust of Gothic engineering; and its strength was in a God that makes all things new.”

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism.



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