Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Swaggering Francois I & His Curious Dragon-Headed Artichoke Caduceus

Francois I & Eleanor (artist unknown, Royal Collection)

Meet King Francois I & Queen Eleanor, a not-very-happy royal couple.  The swaggering Francois agreed to be married as a political gesture, but he made a point of posing for two hours in front of a public window with his consort on the day his bride-to-be arrived in France.

Please click on any of the details to visit this portrait at London's Online Royal Gallery, where it was obtained during the reign of Henry VIII.  Actually when I first saw this portrait, I assumed it depicted Henry VIII and his unpopular bride Ann Boleyn because there is a clergyman lurking in the back of the portrait, hiding in the shadows (see below) while wagging a finger at the apparently drunken Queen as if to reprimand her.  Why he is there I have no idea.

Perhaps even more curious is that Queen Eleanor is carrying in her hand a dragon-headed caduceus that emerges from an artichoke.  (That's right, dragons, like in Game of Thrones!)  Apparently these later fell out of style, which is a shame, because I would like one.


  1. Same strange item as in the picture of Mary Tudor, Queen of France and her second husband Charles Brandon

  2. Yeah agreed I've noticed a bunch of odd portraits depicting Mary Tudor and Brandon.