Posted by: nedlnthred | September 26, 2014

One queen up and three queens back…

Grrr…I have just found an article that disputes that this lovely portrait of Catherine of Aragon *is* the lady in question.  Baaaah!

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?


So here is the portrait, my favorite of Catherine:  For a long time this has been thought to be the image of Catherine of Aragon, painted while she was living very quietly with her (much reduced) Spanish household in England.  And it has been dated c. 1505.

Apparently, there isn’t any documentation of Catherine being painted (and I have always wondered why she would have been, for that matter.  She wasn’t especially important at this phase of her life.)

On the other hand, to me, this *does* look like the Juan de Flandres image that has now been identified as a younger Catherine, which you can see below.

The Infanta Calalina

The Infanta Calalina





Apparently, this identification has come under discussion recently.  To the point that even the Kunsthistorisches, where the painting lives currently, has taken Catherine’s name off it and put Mary’s on, although with a question mark.



Here is a link to the discussion that is making me grind my teeth:

On the one hand, yeah, I don’t understand why on earth von Sittow would paint Catherine while she was living so privately, and was largely irrelevant to English royal life at this point.  And I get that the portrait of Henry VII that was attributed to von Sittow has been re-attributed elsewhere.  But on the third hand, I disagree with the author that this portrait was painted in 1514, when it is documented that von Sittow *was* in England.  At that point Catherine was 29 and Mary Rose was 18.


David_Isabella-I-of-CastileMy arguments are these:  First of all, the neckline of this gown wouldn’t have been fashionable in 1514, and England was up on current styles, even though they also had some weird regional ones.  I *do* agree that the sitter in this portrait is dressed in a Flemish style, neither an English one nor a French one.  But compare this image of Isabella of Spain, painted by Gerard David in 1502 (admittedly much idealized, but still sumptuously gowned), on the right:

It seems to me this could easily be a gown Catherine brought with her when she finally arrived in England in 1501.  (And, according to Caroline Johnson of the Tudor Tailor crowd, that brownish red was probably the color referred to as “murrey” in English documents.)






By 1514, noblewomen on the continent were wearing their kirtle layer much more open, sort of like this, on the left.

This is another forgotten princess, much misnamed.  She has been identified also as Mary Rose Tudor, but is most likely Isabella, Charles V’s sister, who later married the King of Denmark.

This one below is also Isabella,





wearing a similar gown probably painted around 1515, when she married Kristian II of Denmark.  In fact, it looks like the same gown, refitted with different velvet sleeves and worn with a different kirtle.





My other reason for thinking the initial portrait should be Catherine of Aragon, not Isabella of Austria or Mary Rose of England, is that the neckline of the undergown (kirtle probably) is lined with small gold shells.

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?

Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor?


This is the sign of the pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella.  Catherine, like her mother, was very religious. She took the opportunity to make part of this famous pilgrimage on her way to the Spanish coast to embark for England.  There is no reason for Mary Rose to have worn this symbol.  This was one of the most important religious pilgrimages in all of Europe, and this symbol would have been recognizable instantly to anyone in educated European circles.

So there’s my opinion.  And yet, I agree with this single point made by Ms. Tadghighi.  Why would Catherine have been painted in 1505?

(Also, please forgive how weirdly the images and the text format together.  I cannot get WordPress to yet do my exact bidding.)

Hmm.  This messes up what I was going to write about in my thesis.  Must.  Learn.  More.

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