Today we spent another day at the Louvre however, instead of focusing on the Italian Renaissance paintings that we had previously studied, we moved on to Northern and French Renaissance paintings. Northern and French Renaissance artwork differ from Italian Renaissance artwork in that they are characterized by being extremely realistic, very detail oriented and utilized a great deal of symbolism to convey a story. The Fontainbleau school oil on canvas painting entitled “Presumed Portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrees and Her Sister the Duchess of Villars” is a perfect example of classic French Renaissance artwork. Gabrielle d’Estrees was the mistress of King Henry IV and they had children together. They were engaged to be married however she died during childbirth and the wedding never went through. The painting is believed to be a wedding gift for Gabrielle from Henry IV. Art historians believe this because Gabrielle is holding a ring which symbolizes her upcoming nuptials. Additionally, in the higher levels of society it was quite common for portraits, such as this one, to be given as wedding gifts. the fact that her sister is pinching her nipple is symbolic of motherhood and breastfeeding (Gabrielle was pregnant Henry IV’s child in this painting). In the background, a woman is sowing baby clothes which further demonstrates that Gabrielle is carrying the King’s child. Gabrielle and her sister both look very high-class due to their small lips, drawn-on eyebrows and receding hairlines which is ironic because although Gabrielle looks classy she is still an adulteress. I really found this painting quite unique and interesting not just for the obvious reasons, but because it was also about to tell a story in an avant-garde fashion.