Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) was one of the great female sovereigns of the sixteenth century -- the "monstrous regiment of women" that John Knox found so troubling. She ruled France as queen and influenced it mightily as queen mother throughout much of the sixteenth century. Besides Machiavellian political maneuvering, one of her great passions was dwarf collecting. In Vasari's painting of Catherine's marriage to the future Henri II, you'll notice a couple of dwarves in attendance. They were more than just curiosities -- Catherine created a tiny dwarf kingdom within her court, as Leonie Frieda explains in Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France (2005):
She accorded a proper household to her troupe of them; they had their own footmen, apothecaries, laundresses, housekeepers, tutors and so on. The Queen Mother kept her dwarves superbly dressed, wearing furs and precious brocades. Among her favourites were ‘Catherine La Jardiniere’, ‘The Moor’, ‘The Turk’, ‘The dwarf Marvile’ and ‘Auguste Romanesque’, who carried a sword and dagger. There was even a dwarf monk. . . . They all received pocket money from her and she married off two of her favourites in a splendid miniature ceremony. Catherine La Jardiniere was the Queen Mother’s best-loved dwarf and this tiny companion accompanied her almost everywhere.
Catherine's fondness for little people was shared by her granddaughter Eugenia, who is paired with her own favorite dwarf in a portrait by an unknown artist, c. 1599.
You can read more about dwarves in the art of 15th to 18th century Europe at this PBS site. Velasquez is particularly well known for his painting of dwarves in the Spanish court of the 17th century. Las Meninas (The Ladies in Waiting) is probably the most well-known of these works.