Thursday, 10 October 2013

A peculiar portrait

What do you think of this portrait?

The lady in question is Katarina Gustavsdotter Vasa, Princess of Sweden. She was born in 1539, married Edzard of Ostfriesland in 1559 and died 1610. She was quite well educated and seems to have excelled in theology. She seems to have been a smart woman, having an influence both politically and religiously.
I find this portrait a bit odd. There is very little information about it and the date online is 1750! It certainly doesn't look like an 18th century painting, though it might be a copy from that time of an older painting. It is known that she was painted in 1556 when she was 17 and this may very well be it. I am certainly no expert on 16th century fashion, especially not German fashion, which seem to have influenced Sweden the most, but most German gowns I have seen from this period doesn't looks like this.
It is, however, her loopsided headband that I think looks really strange. Have you ever seen anything like it? Her hair seems to be scraped back into a decoarted cap, and then this jewelled band. My first thought was that it may hide a scar or birth mark, but a painter could easily paint that out. On the other hand, if she did have a mark of some kind, then perhaps it was her "thing" to wear something over it and it became part of her person style. Regardless, I think it is an unusual portrait. What do you say?



MrsC (Maryanne) said...

I think it is a religious thing? The pearls look like thorns, and Jesus is often painted with this crown of thorns lopsided.
Also she looks very masculine - honestly my first reaction was that she was living as a woman but was really a man - such things happened but I doubt in royalty! But the high neck dress, very unusual, hiding an Adam's apple?

Isis said...

Maryanne: She was supposed to have been very pious, so perhaps. :)

There is no doubt that Kristina was a woman, she had several children. :) There is very Little information about the painting and it may be wrongly identified, but I suspect the masculinity is due to a not very skilled painter. Unfortunately there are very few Swedish portrait's of women from that period, so it is difficult to see a read thread when it came to fashion, but her mother was also painted in a high-necked gown:

Dated to sometime between 1536-1551. I agree, intriguing!

Cassidy said...

I would definitely buy the first one as an 18th century copy of the second one. (Or are they they same painting?) There's something a bit secondhand about it.

It is a quite odd gown, though. Reminds me a little bit of Cranach's paintings. Her headband is even stranger, and I agree that it could be to hide a birthmark - it just seems too big and showy not to be a statement. It reminds me of that princess with the eyepatch.

Isis said...

Cassidy: I don't know, it may be that the first is just a very bad picture file...Cranach depicts German fashion, so even if they are a generation older, Sweden was massivly influenced by Germany in the 16th century and that was true for fashion too. And it isn't the most popular fashion when it comes to re-enactment, and books, so perhaps it isn't an odd gown at all- it is just that we don't know much about it. :)

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