c.1570. Oil on wood. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Read Note.
Lady in her Bath. This is one of three portraits the artist signed. For a long time the picture was dated c. 1550 and the model for the bathing woman was supposed to be Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II. The children in the painting were supposed to be the offspring of her lover Henry II and Catherine de’Medici, who were placed in her care. More recently the date of the picture has been placed c. 1570, toward the end of Clouet’s life. As Diane died in 1566 scholars searched for another royal favorite as a probable model. Gabrielle d’Estrées, mistress of Henry IV, and Marie Touchet, mistress of Charles IX, are the candidates. In 1966, Roger Trinquet published a most fascinating suggestion: he believes the lady to be Mary Queen of Scots and the painting to have been done with satirical intent for some Huguenot patron. Whatever the case, Clouet’s painting made bathing portraits extremely fashionable.