Léonard Limousin (d. 1575/77) is known as the Fontainebleau School's greatest exponent in enamel painting. Appointed peintre émailleur et valet de chambre du Roi by Henry II in 1548, he later served both François II and Charles IX. The present portraits of Anne de Montmorency, Constable of France (d. 1567) and Catherine de'Medici (d. 1589), wife of Henry II and Regent during the minority of her son, Charles IX, represent two of enamel painting's greatest patrons. Limousin's portrait of the first, who probably became acquainted with the work of the enamel painters through the offices of his younger brother Philippe, Bishop of Limoges, was executed in 1556 and is now in the Louvre. Catherine de'Medici, on the other hand, was depicted no less than fourteen times. A total of eighteen of Limousin's portraits, including that of Anne de Montmorency and four of the Catherine de'Medici portraits, were mounted as here in elaborate frames incorporating additional enamel plaques depicting cherub and grotesque masks, satyrs, bacchantes and coats of arms.
A pair of portraits of Anne de Montmorency and Catherine de' Medici, in identical frames to the present portrait, from the von Oppenheim Trust, were sold Christie's New York, 24 April 2001, lot 223.