By Edward Lucie-Smith
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His mother was a princess of Savoy, and he already looked towards Italy. He made up his mind to attract the greatest Italian artists to his Court. At first, he was not very successful. He wanted Michelangelo, but failed to get him. Leonardo da Vinci came, and for the last three years of his life (1 516-19) resided at the French to Court. 819). Meanwhile, Francois involved himself ever more heavily in the he was fortunate; the victory of Marignano marked the first year of his reign. Later, when he found himself at grips with the wily Emperor Charles V, his luck deserted him.
Caron was a skilled designer of the elaborate fetes in which the Valois Court delighted, and his more typical works tend to reflect the festive, irresponsible mood of these occasions. In a few of his pictures, we also find a reflection of Catherine de Medicis's obsessive interest in the occult: one of the most fascinating of Caron's paintings is his Augustus and the Sibyl, which is simultaneously naive and sophisticated, best Fontainebleau 31 30 is 30 antoine caron Augustus and the Sibyl 1575-80 31 ANTOiNL caron Massacres under 32 jean cousin the younger the Triumvirate Last Judgment 1585 1566 credulous and learned.
1600), whose works sums up the atmosphere of the Court of Catherine de Medicis, Henri H's widow, as Rosso's does that of the Court of Francois I. Caron is first mentioned in the royal accounts in 1540. He becomes more prominent after 1 559, just at the time when the Wars of Religion were beginning. Caron was a sympathizer with the Catholic faction, and a remarkable painting of the Massacres under the Triumvirate (1 566) gives us his reaction to the troubles which were shaking France. It is a strangely heartless work of art.