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Germain Pilon (c.1540-1590)

Catherine de Medici circa 1583

RCIN 20796

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The sculptural nature of clothing at this date can be particularly well conveyed through the portrait bust format. Here the exaggeratedly large padded sleeve-rolls and deeply hollowed pleats of Catherine de’ Medici’s ruff are especially striking from the side. Her jewel-set bodice emphasises the formidable French queen’s love of jewellery. Several pearls owned by her were passed to her daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots, then subsequently to Queen Elizabeth I, and are believed to survive today in the Imperial State Crown.