Alonso Sanchez Coello

Portrait of the Infanta Catalina Michaela of Austria

Portrait of the Infanta Catalina Michaela of Austria
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Alonso Sanchez Coello
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 70x50 cm
Origin: Spain, Between 1582 and 1585

Youngest daughter of the Spanish King Philip II, Catalina Micaela has the proud bearing of one of noble blood. Her cold, arrogant face, the gesture of the hands with their fine fingers touching the necklace - a common gesture in portraits of noblewomen - and the luxurious attire speak of her high position.

Court portraits such as this were of course intended to reflect the sitter's status, and costume was an important element in the creation of the image. Thus the artist paid great attention to the depiction of the gold embroidery, the complicated pattern of the lace, the precious diadem and the pearls around the neck. Light brushstrokes create an almost independent decorative surface, such that pattern seems to be more important than the creation of form and volume. And yet this is clearly a true likeness. Catalina is not beautiful, but the artist saw no reason to make her attractive, for the aristocratic ideal lay beyond mere physical beauty.

Source of entry: Gatchina Palace Museum, 1926
Exibition: Spanish Art: 15th - 19th centuries

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