The origins, training, life and work of the French portraitist Jean (also Jehan, Janet) Clouet lie largely in the dark. He was probably born in Flanders, and perhaps was the son of Jehan Clouet (c. 1420-c.1480), a Flemish painter, who came to France as court painter to the Duke of Burgundy. Jean Clouet, on moving to France, rose to the position of a court painter to King Francis I. The works attributed to him show an undeniably Netherlandish influence, particularly in the rendering of detail.
While not a single signed or reliably authenticated work exists, a great number of drawings survived, probably from the period of 1515–1540, which gives an insight into his artistic temperament and stylistic development. These drawings formed the basis of the attribution of paintings.
It is a fact that Clouet was an accomplished, sought-after portraitist. His works appeal on account of their elegance and quality of portrayal. Perhaps the most famous of his works is Portrait of Francis I. Clouet’s authorship of the portrait is relatively certain, particularly in view of the close links which he enjoyed with the French court. He probably painted several other portraits of the French royal family, such as the Portrait of the Dauphin François (Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum) and the Portrait of Francis I’s daughter, Charlotte (Chicago, Epstein collection.)
Clouet. by N. Maltseva. Moscow. 1963. (in Russian)
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.