# 39609

French School

Portrait of a young Chevalier wearing the Collar of the Order of Saint Michael, his hand resting on his sword hilt.

$15,000.00 AUD

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French School, late 16th century. Oil on panel, 655 x 470 mm (octagonal); originally part of a larger work; a vertical split running the length of the panel has an old expert repair on the reverse; housed in a recent frame.

A beguiling sixteenth-century French portrait of a member of the Order of Saint Michael.

The Order of Saint Michael (Ordre de Saint-Michel) was founded by Louis XI of France in 1469 as a response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece. It was the highest chivalric Order in France for over a century until the introduction of the Ordre de Saint Esprit in 1578. Its members included the French monarchy and the upper echelons of the French nobility, as well as many important figures of the period such as Cesare Borgia, James V of Scotland, Edward VI of England, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, on whom the Order was bestowed by the French monarch of the time.

The Order was dedicated to the Archangel Michael, whose image was engraved on the gold medallion presented to every member. However, the Order’s collar, or chain, which features twelve enamelled gold scallop shells – symbols of holy pilgrimage – remained its most prestigious insignia right up until 1830, when the Order was dissolved. Only three authenticated examples of the Collar of the Order of Saint Michael have survived: two in Dutch collections (Rijksmuseum and Paleis Het Loo) and one in France (Musée de la Légion d’honneur).