As the French monarchy became more stable in late medieval times, the king, Charles VII created the position of 'official mistress'. Agnès Sorel was the first successful applicant for the role, and one of the most romantic. As the official mistress she was more or less another queen, living like a member of the royal family and involving herself in politics.
In the 15th century marriage was an economic and political union of families. Love had nothing to do with it, and there was an extremely high tolerance of extra-marital relationships. Prostitution was not condemned and indeed, the King owned at least one brothel.
painted wooden Madonna.
Despite the name of the painting, a note on the back states that this is 'the Holy Virgin, with traits of Agnès Sorel, mistress of Charles VII, king of France, died in 1450', and most scholars agree that this is a likeness of Agnès. She is portrayed as the Queen of Heaven, richly apparelled and wearing a crown set with pearls. There is very little depth of field in Heaven apparently, so it is difficult to tell if she is seated or standing. The startlingly blue and red seraphim and cherubim crowd in on her. She gazes solemnly and modestly towards the floor.
(The original painting is in Antwerp).
Nudity at this time was a symbol indicating humility, and it had been a tradition for several centuries to depict the Virgin bare breasted. Of course, this had some pitfalls as far as the Church was concerned. A bare breast could incite somewhat less holy thoughts if not carefully 'de-sexualised'. Fouquet does this by painting an unnatural nippleless sphere, slightly too high and too far to the left.
All these works of art are to be found in the room dedicated to Agnès Sorel in the Logis Royal, Loches.