Gabrielle's sister pinches her Nipple, circa 1594

Audio Guide# 4021

Unknown painter, French painting

Original title at bottom

A juicy tearjerker!
This painting hung in a Police Station till 1937! It's about French King Henry IV's mistress and great love, Gabrielle's ("Gaby," the blonde) pregnancy. The weird nipple pinch from her SISTER(!) supposedly increases breast milk production. The seamstress makes baby clothing (a layette). The painting over the fireplace of an almost-nude dude suggests the baby-daddy's virility. The coronation ring may show Henry's plan to marry Gaby. 
BackstoryHenry had a wife, Margaret, who cheated frequentlyThe marriage was annulled and he was free to marry Gabs but sadly she died shortly of another pregnancy or poisoning. Gaby got a Queen's funeral and was buried in the same abbey where the intestines (only) of another king & queen were entombed. Lucky you, that gruesome-twosome's tomb is now here -- just downstairs!
Gaby's fetus would, in real life, become the Duke of Vendôme^ and try and fail to assassinate Cardinal Richelieu, the villain in The Three Musketeers.
Technique: The painting is elegant and "crowded" in the Mannerist style from the "school" of Fontainebleau (more below) that was supported by the ubercool Henry. It uses a 3D trick that's called Trompe-l'œil^ ("tromp loiee") but is hardly as good as these^:

Examples of trompe l'oeil
Nowadays, it's a lesbian icon, even though originally it wasn't (allegedly) sexual in intent. It's also widely parodied:
"Extra! Extra!" (optional)

This was about when Shakespeare and Galileo lived, Descartes was born, Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, Pocahontas met John Smith, Napier discovered logarithms, Boston was founded (a bit later) and Boris Godunov was Tsar of Russia (on whom the opera Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky is based).
King Henry IV was awesome, supporting artists and craftsmen and letting hundreds live in the lower floors of the Louvre. This continued for 200 years till Napoleon Bonaparte banned it. What an ass. Henry also funded the expedition that founded Quebec City, Canada. And built the Pont Neuf^ ("New Bridge"), now the oldest bridge in Paris, just a 10 minute walk from you and the setting for a famous but vein-cuttingly depressing French film starring Juliette Binoche, "The Lovers of Pont Neuf."^ ^
The painter is unknown and there are three others paintings like this one, all probably made for solely for Henry's viewing.
A woman with her toilette, i.e. cleaning herself, doing her make-up, etc. was a popular subject, hence the bathtub. The red curtains represent the bedroom. We don't know why this is important. (3)
Trivia. Did you notice that everyone is left-handed?

The central range of Fontainebleau: patterned parterres have been replaced with lawn.
The two schools of Fontainebleau^ (c.1530–c.1610) were periods separated by the Wars of Religion^ when artists, many unknown, hung out around the Château de Fontainebleau^ palace and did a lot of its decorations and paintings in the the French Mannerist style. These had mythological narratives, elegant artificially elongated forms, idyllic landscapes, strained poses and airs of contrived sophistication, e.g. the famous Diana the Huntress. The school originated with King Francis I who loved Italian Renaissance art -- a "rebirth" of the Classical era (Greek and Roman stuff) that became less centered on religion (i.e. Christianity) -- and continued for 5 kings until Henry IV. French designers and artists would not hit full steam until the Palace of Versailles was built in the 17th century.
KIngs sequence. 1% of you might be interested in this: King Francis I was succeeded by Henry II, then Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III and our favourite, King Henry IV.
See also:
Fair and lovely: Diana the Huntress (popular secret lover meeting spot!)
Spicy: The Cheaters' tour of Louvre art.
Some parodies:

Original title: Gabrielle d'Estrées and one of her sisters
in French: Gabrielle d'Estrées et une de ses sœurs