The Arts Society The Arts Society

A Member Society of THE ARTS SOCIETY


Frances I of France (1494-1547)– Renaissance Prince and Patron

Lecturer: Fenella Billington M.A.

  • How did the Mona Lisa, and Italian painting, come to be in the Louvre in Paris?

  • Why did Leonardo da Vinci, and Italian, spend the last years of his life in France?

  • When Henry VIII was king of England, who was King of France?  What was he like?

All these questions will be answered in this lecture which introduces Francis I and examines his reign.  Francis was a dashing, exciting and impetuous monarch who came to his throne by a circuitous route.  He was the first king of France to collect works of art systematically.  A passionate supporter of the Italian Renaissance, his reign was important for introducing its ideas to France.  His patronage drew many Italian artists to the French court, including Andrea del Sarto, Rosso, Cellini and Leonardo.

The paintings, statues, books and manuscripts amassed by Francis I formed the bases of the collections in the Louvre and in the Bibliothèque National.  He was hailed in his lifetime as “le roi-chevalier” and “le père de lettres”.  He was brave and energetic despite ill-health, a devoted father and, by the standards of the day, humane.

He is well worth getting to know.