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François Clouet (c. 1520-72)

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) c. 1560-61

RCIN 403429

Here the nineteen-year-old Mary wears a form of aristocratic mourning dress known as deuil blanc to mark the loss of her father-in-law, mother and husband in the space of eighteen months. This was deemed a flattering style of attire, exaggerating the desirable paleness of her complexion, with one courtier writing, ‘the whiteness of her face rivalled the whiteness of her veils, and in this contest artifice was the loser, the veils paling before the snows of her skin’.