Jean Fouquet was the most famous French painter of his day. But historical records give us very scarce information about his life and work. Documentary sources of the 15th and 16th centuries show that he was a painter of international repute.
Fouguet probably received instruction in the illumination of manuscripts under Flemish-Burgundian masters, possibly the Limbourg brothers. In any case, the decoration of precious manuscripts took a prominent place throughout his life. (Antiquités Judaïques in Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Histoire Ancienne and Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier, both in the Louvre).
In the 1440s, Fouquet was in Rome, recognized as the royal portraitist of France, and commissioned to paint Pope Eugenius IV and his nephews. This painting, now lost and known only from engraving, evidently inspired a genre of papal portraiture, to which many prominent Italian artists, including Raphael and Titian, contributed in the century that followed.
Fouquet succeeded in combining the diverse influences of Italian and French art of the Early Renaissance to achieve a courtly classicism, marked by a certain detachment and severe construction, which is unique in the art of the 15th century.
c.1442. Tempera on wood. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.