At first glance, a green parrot featured in Jean Clouet’s Portrait of François Ier as St. John the Baptist appears out of place. The parrot was a prized import that graced Europe upon Alexander the Great’s victorious return from the Persian Empire and India. Why is this foreign bird exhibited in a sixteenth-century French royal portrait? Repeated in a portrait of François’ sister, it becomes apparent that the green parrot was no casual inclusion. François’ green parrot contains a complex visual message. Considering the implications of the parrot and the ambitions of François, this paper will argue that the appearance of this particular bird served to glorify and endorse a new branch of the royal House of Valois.
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