The roots of the art produced in the workshop of Antoine Caron lie in Beauvais, France, where Caron was born and trained as a young man, initially painting frescos for churches in the region. Such was his talent that at the age of 39 he was appointed as court painter to Catherine de’ Medici, Queen Regent.

A significant patron of the arts, Catherine commissioned many paintings in his vivid Mannerist style, many of which commemorate the festivities of the court. His work, however, was diverse and many of his paintings outside of this sphere focused largely on massacres, prophetical and astrological subjects.

Many of Caron’s works have been lost or have become impossible to attribute with any certainty as to the original artists, however, there are several which have survived the generations to stand his name and life’s work as one of the French painters with a pronounced artistic personality. There is, however, only one that is dated and signed – Massacres under the Triumvirate (1566).

Massacres under the Triumvirate

Subject: The massacre committed by the League of Catholics of the Protestants during the French Wars of Religion.

Year: 1566
Current Location: The Louvre
Medium: Oil on canvas

Facts:

  • The French Wars of Religion lasted from March 1562-April 1568, under the regency of Queen Catherine de’ Medici. It is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history.
  • The term Triumvirate means “a group of 3 men holding power”. In this case, these men were the Constable of Montmorency, Jacques d’Albon de Saint-André and the Duc de Guise.
  • It has been divided at some point (date unknown) into 3 separate panels but was originally painted as one piece.

Bloodbath of the Triumvirate

Subject: The massacres of the Protestants ordered by the Triumvirate in Rome, 43BC.

Year: 1521–1599
Current Location: Ruzhnikov Gallery
Medium: Oil on wooden panel
Facts:

  • This painting relates to The Massacres under the Triumvirate, but is not signed or dated
  • The Triumvirate in this historic painting were Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus, who can be seen on the right of the painting
  • The paintings were most likely drawn from Claude de Seysels Les Guerres des Romains which went through several editions between 1544 and 1560.

Augustus and the Sibyl of Tibur

Subject: Roman Emperor Augustus kneeling before the Sibyl of Tibur, the vision of the Child being held by the Virgin before them. The Roman people would now worship the Child.

Year: 1575-1580
Current Location: The Louvre
Medium: Oil on canvas
Facts:

  • Spectators in the background include Catherine de Medici and the future King Henry III
  • The legend behind this painting is as follows: the emperor Augustus was to be deified in reward for his services in restoring peace to the world. Before he would accept this honour, he asked the Sibyl of Tibur (Tivoli) if the world was to see the birth of a child greater than him. The Sibyl duly arrived and showed the Emperer a vision of a golden circle with a beautiful Virgin holding a child to her breast. A voice was heard to say, “This is the altar of heaven (Hæc is ara Celi).” The Sibyl informed the Emperor that this child would be greater than the Emperor, at which point he gave up his deification and paid homage to the Divine Child (this is the scene shown in the painting).

Portrait of a Lady

Subject: As the title says, a portrait of a lady in the Mannerist style Caron was – is – famous for

Year: 1577
Current Location: Alte Pinakothek Art Musuem, München
Medium: Oil on panel

Facts:

  • Portrait of a Lady follows the Mannerist style of the majority of Caron’s work, with elongation a key attribute of the portrait.
  • The lady in the portrait is unknown and has long been a subject of curiosity in the art world

The Submission of Milan to Francis I in 1515

Subject: This painting depicts various moments from the Battle of Marignano, which resulted in a victory for the French when Milan submitted to Francis I in 1515 (hence the title). This battle was a part of the War of the League of Cambrai, a phaseof the Italian Wars, which took place from 1494-1559.

Year: 1570
Current Location: National Gallery of Canada
Medium: Oil on panel

Facts:

  • The painting shows Milan submitting to Francis I as the central scene, which is surrounded by smaller scenes of other moments in the war.
  • The original drawing of this painting was created by Nicolas Houel (1524-1587), reproduced by Caron in 1570.

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