The Valois family dynasty ruled France during the turmoil of the French Renaissance. The era was much like today, but without the comforts. It was a time of extreme violence, economic disparity, bigotry, religious wars, pandemics, fanaticism and, surprisingly, a flowering in the arts. The parallels to the world today are dismaying and surprising.
Ambitious, greedy, ruthless, sensuous, sickly and arrogant, the Valois personified their times. Their dynasty weakened over time with each successive generation, becoming more and more divisive, decadent and distant from their subjects. The last Valois, Henry III, was a cross-dressing (to me a plus!), murderous fanatic who was stabbed to death by a mad monk. My series of portraits explores their varied careers, passions, foibles and crimes.