II Frans Pourbus

Portrait of Margaret of Savoy, Duchess of Mantua

Portrait of Margaret of Savoy, Duchess of Mantua
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Author: II Frans Pourbus
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 206.5x116.3 cm
Origin: Flanders, 1608

Margaret of Savoy was the daughter of Carl Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and Catherine of Spain. In 1608 she was married to Francesco IV Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. During the same year Pourbus painted the Duchess 's full-length portrait. She is shown wearing her wedding attire against a background of splendid blue and brown drapery. The hem of her dress is richly decorated with embroidery depicting the ducal crown and the monogram "FGMA" . This work is typical of the genre of official portraits as it developed in the Spanish court during the second half of the 16th century and spread across all of Europe towards the beginning of the 17th century. The typical features of such a portrait were a static pose and expressive gesture of the hands of the model, a background that necessarily included drapery and the artist's great attention to the slightest details of costume, all defined by the strict requirements of court etiquette. The Hermitage canvas, like many other such works, is striking for the contrast between the living face of the model and her hands versus the flat, static figure that is weighed down by a rigid and heavy costume. Nonetheless Pourbus's expert skill allowed him to smooth over the contradictions between the requirements of the genre and a feeling of moderation, so that he created here the truly harmonious work of a mature master.

Source of entry: All-Union Society 'Antiquariat', 1931
Theme: History

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