28
Oct
12

Day 302: Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, by Alonso Sánchez Coello

The Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz by Alonso Sánchez Coello

Day 302: Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, by Alonso Sánchez Coello

The portrait of The Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz (c.1585-88), by Alonso Sánchez Coello (Spain, c. 1531-1588), is among the central images of the Portrait of Spain exhibition from the Prado collections, on view at the Queensland Art Gallery until November 4.

The portrait shows the Infanta standing full-length and facing the viewer with a fixed and imperious gaze. She is wearing a spectacular dress of crisp white silk richly embroidered with gold; a high starched collar of exquisite lace; and a sumptuous jewelled parure of gold, pearls, and precious stones. In her hands she is holding a cameo portrait of her father, Philip II, thus paying an emphatic homage to the monarch of Spain.

The family servant, Magdalena Ruiz, is kneeling subserviently by the Infanta’s side, vicariously representing the homage of the Spanish nation before its ruling dynasty. She is holding two rare South-American monkeys reflective of the courtly interest in rare and exotic species of flora and fauna as well as a symbol of Spain’s colonial expansion and the (temporary) annexation of Portugal and its South American colonies.

The physical and psychological contrast between the Infanta and the servant with monkeys accentuates the message of the ruling dynasty’s elevation to a semi-divine status far above the rest of the humanity.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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