NGV National Gallery of Victoria

Elisabeth of Valois

Sofonisba Anguissola (attrib. to)
Italian c.1532–1625
Isabel de Valois, holding a portrait of Philip II c.1561–65
oil on canvas
206.0 x 123.0 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P01031)

Lived: 2 April 1545 – 3 October 1568

Third wife of Philip II, eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici.

Their marriage was the result of The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), a cessation in the conflict between France and Spain.  Nonetheless, it was a very happy union, despite their considerable age difference (Elisabeth was 14 at her wedding and Philip 32). To celebrate their wedding, Philip staged pageants to amuse her. Elisabeth, like Philip, was also an art lover. She had been an amateur painter and after meeting the artist Sofonisba Anguissola at her wedding, Anguissola helped her to improve her technique. Elisabeth died from a miscarriage during her fourth pregnancy, only two of which produced live infants, the princesses Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catherine Michelle.