Attributed to Pierre Dumonstier the Elder

The widow of one king and mother of three others, Catherine de’ Medici (1519–1589) was one of the most powerful women in Europe. She ruled France during the minority of Charles IX and continued to have a voice in affairs of state after he came of age.She had the unenviable task of trying to reconcilethe Catholic and Protestant factions during the Warsof Religion, although she ultimately abandoned herattempts at compromise and bears some responsibilityfor the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. During these times of crisis, she relied on the advice of twoLaubespine brothers: Sébastien, an ambassador posted in several countries, and Claude II, secretaryof state. She thought so highly of Claude II that shevisited him the day before he died to confer about military operations against the Protestants.

Attributed to Pierre Dumonstier the Elder
(ca. 1545–1625), after François Clouet (d. 1572)
Catherine de’ Medici, Wife of Henry II, King
of France,
ca. 1570–80
Black chalk, with red and yellow chalk, and some stumping, on cream paper
The Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1907; III, 65c