Jacques Gauvain was probably a native of Picardy as is suggested by his surname. He was engraver at the mint of Grenoble between 1521 and 1524 and lost this office as a result of his unwillingness to give up a lucrative private practice in Lyon where he lived between 1515 and 1547.
His first wife was a daughter of Jean Lepère, the Lyonese goldsmith who made the medal for the entry of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany to Lyon in 1499 (NGA 1957.14.1121.a,b). His second wife was a daughter of Guillaume Carme, also a goldsmith of Lyon.
The only documented medals by Gauvain were commissioned by the consuls of Lyon for presentation to Queen Eleonore, wife of François I, of the Dauphin, François, and Antoine Duprat, cardinal legate and chancellor of France, for their entry to Lyon in May 1533. Of these medals only that of François has survived. A group of ten medals is accepted by Mazerolle as the work of Gauvain, including three self-portait medals, which are in a German style. One of them was copied by Hans Schwarz.
 Natalis Rondot, Jacques Gauvain, orfevre, graveur et médailleur à Lyon au seizième siècle, Lyon, 1887: 29-30; Fernand Mazerolle, Les médailleurs français du XVe siècle au milieu du XVIIe, 3 vols., Paris, 1902-1904: 1:xvii-xviii; 2: nos. 46-56; George Habich, Die deutschen Schnaumünzen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, 5 vols., Munich, 1929-1935: no. 284; Mark Jones, A Catalogue of the French Medals in the British Museum, 2 vols., London, 1982-1988: 1:50.
[This is the biography published in the NGA systematic catalogue.]