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Last Surviving Portrait of Catherine De’ Medici Returns To London

A rare portrait of Catherine de’ Medici, wife of King Henry II of France, will return to London and put to display for the public.

According to reports, the painting would be returned to Strawberry Hill House in London, where it had once hung. It used to be a part of the extensive collection owned by 18th century politician and writer Horace Walpole. In 1842, most of the Holpole’s collection was auction, including the painting. Now, it will be placed under public view due to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows families to pay inheritance taxes in exchange of putting historical artificats under public ownership. The painting will now be displayed at Strawberry Hill House when it re-opens on May 17. The Twickenham-based museum used to be a gothic revival house until it was converted to an art centre in 2010.

Strawberry Hill House

The painting is believed to be the last surviving contemporary portrait of the Queen Consort Catherine de’ Medici. It depicted Catherine with four of her children. These included Charles IX and Henry III, two future kings of France, as well as Marguerite de Valois (future Queen of Navarre) and François-Hercule. The work is considered to be created by French court painter Francois Clouet in 1561.

Catherine de’ Medici was one of the most iconic women in French history. Born in 1519, she was the great-granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent who ruled the Florence Republic at her zenith. Pope Leo X was her grand-uncle. Three of Catherine’s sons became kings of France and she exerted singiifcant political influence during the era of regency.