Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Fig. 1: Anthonis Mor, Portrait of Infanta Maria of Austria as Queen of Bohemia and Regent of Spain, 1551, oil on canvas, 181 x 90 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, inv. no. P002110. © Museo del Prado
One of the most impressive portraits Anthonis Mor painted in his early career while visiting the Spanish court in 1551 was that of Infanta Maria of Austria, the eldest daughter of Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal; today, in Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, inv. no. P002110 (fig. 1).
This impressive life-size portrait measures almost two meters in length and was made to be a pendant portrait of her husband, Archduke Maximilian, the future Emperor Maximilian II, which Anthonis Mor had painted one year earlier in 1550 (fig. 2; Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, inv. no. P002111). Mor’s portrait is one of the earliest portrayals of Infanta Maria to have survived.
Fig. 2: Anthonis Mor, Portrait of Archduke Maximilian as King of Bohemia and Regent of Spain, 1550, oil on canvas, 184 x 100 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, inv. no. P002111. © Museo del Prado
Intended to be hung and displayed together, Infanta Maria and Archduke Maximilian were represented by Mor as the power couple of Europe. They married in Valladolid in 1548 and ruled Spain as regents on behalf of Maria’s absent father, Emperor Charles V. At the time of their marriage; they were given new titles, ‘King and Queen of Bohemia’, which princely status is well reflected in these impressive court portraits Mor painted while residing at their court in Valladolid. As regents, they remained in Spain until October 1551, after which they returned to Vienna, where they made a triumphant entry into the capital of the Habsburg imperial court.
The two Prado originals, signed and dated by Anthonis Mor, 1550 and 1551, respectively, were once located in the king’s portrait collection in the Alcázar Royal Palace in Madrid, having survived the destructive 1734 fire.
Anthonis Mor was lauded for these portraits and immediately requested to make several copies. Two full-length replicas were recorded in King Philip II of Spain’s first inventory of his collection, drawn up in 1553. They were later showcased after 1564 in his hunting lodge El Pardo, outside of Madrid, in the king’s celebrated portrait gallery, known as the Sala de los Retratos. Still, They were later lost in the 1604 fire of this residence. A three-quarter length copy of Infanta Maria by Mor and his workshop was made for the king’s sister, Juana of Austria, and displayed in the portrait gallery Juana had specially created in her private apartment, located in the Descalzas Reales. Sold by the Descalzas Reales nuns in the mid-nineteenth century, Maria’s portrait is in Brussels in the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, inv. 1297.
While at the Valladolid court, Anthonis Mor was requested to paint a small miniature of Infanta Maria, which Adriana Concin recently discovered in the Kunst Museum Winterthur, Switzerland (fig. 3). Although the miniature was published in 1986, neither the sitter nor the painter had been securely identified until Annemarie Jordan was able to confirm both in early 2022, with the curator, Sonja Remenberger, at Kunst Museum Winterthur.
Fig. 3: Attributed to Anthonis Mor, Miniature Portrait of Infanta Maria of Austria as Queen of Bohemia, 1551, oil on panel, D: 6.5 cm, Kunst Museum Winterthur, Photo: Steffen Hastaedt
This intimate portrayal of Infanta Maria, oil on a panel and 6.5 centimetres in diameter, was relocated from the Museum Briner and Kern to the Kunst Museum in Winterthur in 2017, a gift of the Jakob Briner Foundation. Concin and Jordan propose that it was commissioned by Maria’s sister, Infanta Juana of Austria, as a memento and keepsake, knowing that Juana would never see her elder sister again after she departed Spain in 1551. Despite its small dimension, Mor has taken great pains with Maria’s image, depicting her realistically, a close-up intended for personal, intimate viewing. Although executed quite impressionistically, the quintessence of Infanta Maria’s persona and character has been vividly captured by Mor. It is possible that this miniature served as a preliminary sketch or bozzetto for his full-length Prado version.
A miniature recently acquired by the Hispanic Society of America in New York, inv. no. LA2379, which depicts Maria with the same attire and veil as in Mor’s full-length version, was painted at Valladolid at precisely the same time, in mid-1551. Slightly larger than Mor’s miniature (6.7 cm in diameter), it is equally executed with a vivid, expressive style (fig. 4). Like Mor’s miniature, it was painted on a walnut burl panel. In a recent essay, Jordan attributed the Hispanic Society miniature to Juana of Austria’s court painter and miniaturist, Manuel Denis, identifying it as one recorded in Juana’s 1553 inventory, carefully stored in a gold box, with a pendant miniature, now lost, of Maria’s husband, Archduke Maximilian, probably by Denis.
Fig. 4: Attributed to Manuel Denis, Portrait Miniature of Infanta Maria of Austria, Queen of Bohemia, 1551, oil on walnut panel, diameter: 6.7 cm, New York, Hispanic Society of America, inv. no. LA2379. Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Lenaghan © Hispanic Society of America, New York
The miniature of Infanta Maria, as regent of Spain and Queen of the Romans, will be on view at the Kunst Museum Winterthur in a small exhibition, Checkmate – Spiel der Könige. Herrscherminiaturen des Frühbarock, from 8 October 2022 to 12 February 2023. For more information, see https://www.kmw.ch/press/checkmate/.
Annemarie Jordan publishes Infanta Maria of Austria’s miniatures in Winterthur and New York in the following chapters, On Portraits and Portraitists at Renaissance Habsburg Courts and In the long shadow of Antonio de Holanda. Manuel Denis at the courts of Empress Isabella of Portugal and Princess Juana of Austria in the forthcoming book, On Portraiture (Do Tirar polo Natural), edited by the late John B. Bury, Annemarie Jordan Gschwend and Fernando António Baptista Pereira. This book, published by Paul Holberton Publishing in London, is expected in 2023.
For more about Infanta Maria of Austria, her collecting, patronage, portraits and formidable role as Holy Roman Empress at the Habsburg court in Vienna and later in Madrid, look for the forthcoming monographic study by Adriana Concin and Annemarie Jordan Gschwend, which includes a Spanish-English transcription and translation of her unpublished post-mortem 1603 inventory.
Burke, Markus, ‘Portrait of a Spanish Infanta (María or Juana of Austria)’, consult: http://hispanicsociety.emuseum.com/objects/9234/portrait-of-a-spanish-infanta-maria-or-juana-of-austria?ctx=8abb5224-9c49-4545-aa55-02194c5efe58&idx=0
Bury, John, Jordan Gschwend, A. and F. A. Baptista Pereira, On Portraiture (Do Tirar polo Natural) (London: Paul Holberton Publishing) : https://www.paulholberton.com/product-page/on-portraiture-do-tirar-pelo-natural
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