A Renaissance princess named Margaret. Fashioning a public image in a courtly society
Eichberger, Dagmar, "A Renaissance princess named Margaret. Fashioning a public image in a courtly society", dans Melbourne Art Journal , 4 (2000) p. 4-24.
Margaret of Austria (1480-1530), daughter of Emperor Maximilian I and aunt of Emperor Charles V, governed the Burgundian Netherlands for almost twenty-five years. As Regent of the Netherlands she successfully turned her residence in Mechelen into a international centre of politics, music and arts. This lecture investigates how a well-educated and widely-travelled gentlewoman presented herself in public through the discerning use of heraldry and the visual arts.
Margaret of Austria was well acquainted with the portrait conventions of her time. She commissioned numerous images of herself for distribution and public display. After the death of her second husband she employed two distinct portrait types which represented different aspects of her role as woman of influence and political standing. In some instances she wished to be depicted as the loyal consort of Duke Philibert of Savoy. On other occasions she preferred to use the single portrait type which stressed her role as dowager duchess and Regent of the Netherlands.
Her ongoing search for appropriate role models took her beyond simple portraiture and into the realm of more symbolic representations. On two occasions she asked to be portrayed in the guise of a saint. This modern device was employed to add new Layers of meaning to traditional portraiture.
Towards the end of her career Margaret of Austria commissioned her court painter to portray her as [Caritas]. This choice can be read as an expression of her deeply felt religiosity and, perhaps even more importantly, as evidence for her identification with a particular element of good governement.