This work is a magnificent example of the Gothic painting that developed in medieval France. We do not know the artist who painted this painting, however we can be sure that it is a work made before the year 1350, given who is portrayed: John the Good, the second king of France belonging to the Valois dynasty. A fact that is confirmed by the inscription at the top of the image (although it is an inscription made after the painting).
Portrait of John the Good
It is considered one of the oldest and most preserved easel paintings in the history of French art, perhaps for this reason its pictorial support is a real rarity, since it is made directly on wood. And not only that, but it is also the first portrait in Europe in which a well-known character is presented. It is therefore not surprising that the work is preserved in the great French art gallery, the Louvre Museum in Paris.
We have said that the work is prior to the year 1350, and that is that John the Good was born in 1319 and died in 1364, reigning only from that 1350, and that is that the character here is represented when he was Duke of Normandy, and not a king, since he has not been immortalized with the main attribute of the monarchy, his crown.
On the other hand, the pose of the portrayed is very official, since we are presentedcompletely in profile, a representation of very classic airs because it is the same as the effigies and busts of the coins. However, the anonymous artist who made it was able to give the portrait a certain vitality and truth, something tremendously difficult in such a position.
In addition to the artistic quality of the work, its rarity and its antiquity, this portrait is also worth knowing to discover the history of this unfortunate king of France. The truth is that John the Good reigned at a rather convulsive moment in history, since at that time Europe, and more specifically his country, was involved in the Hundred Years' War.
In fact, France was defeated by England in the famous Battle of Poitiers in 1356, and even the king was taken prisoner and even had to give up his crown. For these reasons he is a character who has gone down in history as a loser, and if you look at the subsequent list of French kings, none of them ever bore John's name again.