Circle of Jean Decourt

Madeleine de Laubespine inherited her brother’s library after his death in 1570. It would have meant a lot to her, not just as a memorial of a favorite sibling but also as a store of literature that she could appreciate in its own right. Celebrated for her beauty and wit, Madeleine was an accomplished poet who left behind a substantial body of work, including sonnets, songs, and translations. She and other members of her family were patrons of poets such as Pierre de Ronsard and Philippe Desportes (who was also one of her lovers). In one poem, Desportes mourned the loss of Claude III and pledged himself to Madeleine “on the holy grave of someone I loved so much and can remember by his likeness so well conveyed in you.” Ronsard praised her verse, although he confessed, “I’m sad that your rising sun doth shine upon my muse abased below.”

Circle of Jean Decourt (ca. 1530–after 1585)
Portrait of Madeleine de Laubespine, dame de Villeroy, sixteenth century
Oil on panel
Collection of William Kopelman