The present miniature copies a 16th-century portrait that was later exhibited in the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris as a portrait of the French King Louis IX (1226-70); canonized in 1297 as St Louis, he was one of the most important kings and also one of the foremost saints of the later Middle Ages. In 1730, Montfaucon published in his Monumens de la monarchie françoise a printed copy of the painting, accompanied by a description (p.155).
The portrait disappeared from the Sainte-Chapelle before the mid-18th century but was later identified by Paul Durrieu when it belonged to the Comte Charles de Montferrand (see 'Le portrait de saint Louis...', Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, XXIV, 1908, pp.321-31; present location of the portrait unknown). According to Durrieu, the inscription 'Loys 9e en l'eage de treze ans 1226' was added in the 17th century; the collar resembles that of the Order of the Golden Fleece but instead of the sheepskin a large pearl is attached.
A portrait of Philip the Fair (1478-1506) by the Master of the Legend of Mary Magdalene from c.1490 shows the young boy wearing the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, with a falcon perched on his left hand while holding a stick used for training in his right (Paris, Louvre, see also Le trésor de la Sainte-Chapelle, exh. cat., 2001, no.70). This composition might have served as prototype for the 16th-century portrait that was later exhibited in the Sainte-Chapelle and copied throughout the 17th and early 18th century as a portrait of St Louis.
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