Henry II Style (1530-1590)

Henry II’s style spread during the last Valois kings, from Henry II to Francis I, until the start of the 17th century.

Henri II, king of France, portraited in a black outfit with dark facial hair and pale skin.
Henri II- Musée Condé, Chantilly.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/24dde232-2d33-4872-8659-a46252c785ed by Lejeune Grégory

History of Henry II Style

During this period, Italy inspired French architects and sculptors. Further, they brought several Italian artists from Raphael‘s or Michelangelo‘s school, Saint-Porchaire, over to France. Below is an example of low-fire white pottery made in France in the middle years of the sixteenth century. It took the name of Henri II-ware because some pieces are in the king’s name.

It is white faience ware designed for the elite French public. Only about sixty pieces survived, but they all clearly show the influence of the Mannerist movement. The production of art from Saint-Porchaire artists created unique pieces by bouncing ideas off each other. For example, Basic clay shapes were put on the wheel and refined. Then, a lead glaze added to the surface gave it a golden transparency. It is also possible to see distinctive designs derived from Mannerist in these newer pieces of art.

Mirror, Johann Valentin Gevers (German, ca. 1662–1732), Oak and pine veneered with tortoiseshell, silver, silver gilt, green-stained ivory, and mirror glass.
Mirror (1710) by Johann Valentin Gevers

Image source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/207785

'Henri II Ware' example. A light stone object with intricate details, statues-like structures built into the side and the use of brown, green and blue colors.
Henri II Ware’ Salt (1876) – England

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/835a1ae9-0232-4e7c-9cbc-1be27171e064 by

Funerary statues of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici-Basilique de Saint-Denis in a white stone.
Funerary statues of Henry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici-Basilique de Saint-Denis

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c15a6db1-502d-4b50-a2c8-6108d5d58d97 by Yair Haklai

Henry II Furniture Style

During this period there was an important artistic activity that led to the birth of albums of engravings inspired by classical antiquity. The authors were Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, a Parisian, and Hugues Sambin, a Burgundian. They sold albums in their cities, such as Paris and Dijon.

Decorative antique bed, owned by Henri II, realized in walnut.
Henri II decorative antique bed in walnut

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/0f314b32-cfd4-4386-931e-4cf9c6a9f9a3 by frenchfinds.co.uk

The schools of the Henry II style are different because of their way of carving: the one of the Île de France, and the one of the Burgundy. The Burgundian style used a lavish carving suggesting richness. Comparatively, the Île de France school preferred the elegantly sculpted goddesses of Jean Goujon.

A deep wood armoire with various statue-like carvings used as columns to hold up the structure.
Armoire (1520–1601) by Hugues Sambin

Image source: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/192768?searchField=All&sortBy=Relevance&ft=Hugues+Sambin+%2c1580&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=6

The Henry II style featured an architectural character, similar to the Gothic Style. For example, the armories had four doors: two above and two below, separated by pilasters. The architectural effect improved by the introduction of niches with statuettes. Mythological figures were commonly present motifs in these pieces.

King Henri II's Chamber: A lavish canopy bed sits in the center, with tapestries on either side, a window and a chair on the right side of the room.
Amboise Chateau – King Henri II’s Chamber

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/8a749dce-cbc7-4eba-a241-394afc406346 by Geoff Livingston

Rectangular tables have chimeras and caryatids engraved, and even colonnades and longitudinal arcades.

Antique Henry II French bed pediment with impressive flourishes.
Antique Henry II French bed pediment

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c8c3f21e-13a7-40d3-b2d8-dfc7f86b983f by frenchfinds.co.uk

Henry II Style Painting

Hans Holbein’s “The Ambassadors,” one of the best-known paintings in the world, was created during the Tudor period. It is a double portrait, and it depicts several well rendered objects, the meaning of which causes important debates. It is preserved in the collection of the National Gallery in London.

The Ambassadors painting: Two men stand on either side of a shelf with various artifacts, such as a globe, a musical instrument and a book.
The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbein

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/75cd11d0-865d-4d40-9d4e-69405b34b28e by DJANDYW.COM


Many products of the Henry II style were architectural pieces that still exist today.  Rosso Fiorentino, Francesco Primaticcio and Sebastiano Serlio became Henry II’s court artisans, building up his gallery and the Aile de la Belle Cheminée.

Rosso Fiorentino's mural on the upper-wall of a grand room. There is an arched-window in the center with various naked figures surrounding it.
Stories of the Genesis (1524) by Rosso Fiorentino

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/35f06f92-736f-476b-a6bb-caef66984b25 by Sailko

French architect Pierre Lescot and sculptor Jean Goujon restored the Palais du Louvre that laid around the famous square court. The Château d’Anet, was commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, and was designed by Philibert Delorme, who studied in Rome. The very mannerist estate hosted a statue of Diana by Benvenuto Cellini, that was in France at the time.

Château d'Anet: A mixed stone building with various points, columns and windows.
Château d’Anet de style Renaissance, Anet, Eure-et-Loir.

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/0eb5d046-1159-4783-8520-1dbc2de62dfb by olive.titus

Château d'Anet de style Renaissance shown from a differing angle. It has a dark roof and light, mixed stone walls.
Château d’Anet de style Renaissance, Anet, Eure-et-Loir

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/872b0e45-fa02-41e5-b87c-b0ff1a5500da by olive.titus

In 1564, Delorme began the project for the Tuileries, which became the most surprising Parisian palace of the Henry II style. It also featured several mannerist classical themes, for which Delorm developed his own “French order” of columns.

Photo of the lavish Tuileries Garden located in France.
Tuileries Palace, Paris.

Image souce: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/7526b389-22ab-47e0-9d20-bc8fa2d994d2 by archer10 (Dennis)

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Henry-II-style

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