A painter of portraits and a miniaturist during the French Renaissance, Clouet was known for his precise and detailed works. Following in the footsteps of his father, Jean Clouet (1480 – 1541), François was appointed an honorary position as Groom of the Chamber for France’s monarchy, which ensured him a salary.
Clouet painted several portraits of the ruling class, including a notable portrait of King François I (1494 – 1547), now at the Uffizi Gallery, a miniature of his successor, King Henry II (1519 – 1559), one of his wife, Catherine de’ Medici (1519 – 1589), their sons François, Duke of Anjou (1555 – 1584) and Charles IX (1550 – 1574) as well as Charles’ wife, Elizabeth of Austria (1554 – 1592). He also painted Mary, Queen of Scots (1542 – 1587) and Marguerite de Valois, among several others throughout the court of the royal family. His masterpiece of these works is often considered the portrait of Elizabeth of Austria.
He also prepared the death-masks for François I and those to be use for his son Henry II, as well as several decorative pieces for their burial ceremonies. While his pieces were exquisite in their exactness and accuracy, he restrained his work to subtle colors and a strict portrait style, with perhaps the exception of his vivid piece, Diane de Poitiers. This work is one of the only pieces actually signed by Clouet, although there may be over 50 drawings and paintings attributed to him.