themes
 Ideal Courtiers, Real Courtiers
jamyn

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Amadis Jamyn
French, 1538–1592
Les Œuvres Poétiques (Poetic Works)
Paris, 1575
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

Amadis Jamyn, also known as “Corydon,” served the poet Pierre de Ronsard as a page starting at the age of thirteen; he was himself a poet-courtier. His Poésies adressées à leurs majestez contains a particularly flattering epistle to the King Charles IX: “You are what a Monarch ought to be, and all the virtues you expect from a great prince like you are displayed in a hundred instances, etc.”

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mignons

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Unidentified artist
Two Gentlemen (Knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit), ca. 1575­­–85
Oil on panel
Ernest I. White, Class of 1893, Endowment Fund

 

This double portrait may well be of Anne, duc de Joyeuse (1560-1587) and Jean Louis de Nogaret de la Valette, duc d’Epernon (1554-1642), otherwise known as the archi-mignons or Henri III’s closest favorites. Since Joyeuse and d’Epernon were appointed together as Knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit in 1583, they may have posed for a double portrait painted for the occasion.

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castiglione

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Baldassare Castiglione
Italian, 1478–1529
Il Libro del Cortegiano (The Book of the Courtier)
First edition of 1528, from the press of Aldus Manutius in Venice
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

This was one of the most influential books of the Renaissance. By the end of the 16th century it had been translated into every major European language. The depth of its appeal may be shown by the story that Holy Roman Emperor Charles V kept three books at his bedside: the Bible (in Latin), Machiavelli's The Prince, and Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano (both in Italian).

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mercuriale

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Girolamo Mercuriale
Italian, 1530–1606
De Arte Gymnastica (The Art of Gymnastics), 1573
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

Mercuriale’s De Arte Gymnastica is a fascinating work—part medical treatise and part history book—in which the author painstakingly pored over ancient texts and archaeological remains to reconstruct the athletic practices of the ancient Greeks and Romans in order to examine the effect of physical activity on the health of people in ancient times.

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unicorn

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Jean Duvet, French, 1485–ca. 1562
A Unicorn Purifies a Spring with its Horn, ca. 1555
Engraving
Gift of Paul Ehrenfest (Class of 1932) and Elizabeth K. Ehrenfest


Born in Dijon, the son of a goldsmith, Duvet so excelled at his father’s profession that he attracted the notice of François I himself, who name him orfèvre du roi, goldsmith to the king. By 1519, Duvet is fairly certain to have traveled to Italy either on his own initiative or as a soldier with the invading armies of François I, because his engravings are imbued with a distinct Italian flavor. During the late 1540’s, Duvet began a series of engravings all unified by the theme of the unicorn. In this scene, generally accepted as the first in the series, all the animals of the forest are shown patiently waiting for the unicorn to purify their spring—poisoned by a serpent—with his horn.

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marot

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Clément Marot
French, 1496–1544
Les Œuvres de Clément Marot, de Cahors, Vallet de Chambre du Roy
Paris, 1546
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

Clément Marot, renowned poet, became a favorite of future François I at the age of eighteen. In 1520 he attended the “Field of the Cloth of Gold,” and duly celebrated it in verse; in 1524 he accompanied the King in his disastrous Italian campaign. The fact that his title was Valet de Chambre du Roi (Valet of the King’s Chamber) does not mean that he made the King’s bed – just that he was part of his entourage, sometimes used as a private secretary and confidante – until his disgrace for religious and philosophical reasons in 1534.

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