Saturday, 16 November 2013

The cartoon book royals

The new portrait of the Danish Royal Family, just released, has a lot going for it.  Its composition is great with all eyes on the future of the monarchy, Prince Christian.  The way the little king to be appears, flanked by his grandparents, puts the focus on the boy who will take the world's oldest monarchy towards the 22nd century.  The history is unbeatable - its the first portrait of a Danish monarch with all their descendants since 1886 when Laurits Tuxen painted Christian IX, the grandfather of Europe, with his family.  And the location is perfect -the family was captured in the Garden Room at the Fredensborg Palace, meaning this future king called Christian is standing in the same spot as his namesake ancestor for this portrait.  It's just a shame the whole thing looks so strange.

The Danish royal family, present and future, captured in the same place as the royals of the past for an historic portrait
(Thomas Kluge)
OK, some might ask why the actual next king, Frederik, has been relegated to a bit part at the back holding one of his twins or why Princess Isabella seems to have regressed several years to be about the same age as little Prince Henrik who appears to be making a grab for the throne as he scuttles into the foreground.  But the main question is surely how something with so much going for it could end up looking so odd.  Prince Christian, the centre of the whole portrait, might be a king in waiting with a whole country to rule in years to come but he looks unnaturally old in the painting for a boy who has just turned eight.  And while the ruins of the ancient buildings in the background hark back to the portrait traditions of past centuries, here they make it look like Margrethe forgot to shut the door of the Garden Room one winter and is waiting for the builders to turn up and put the wall back up again.
The famous portrait of Christian IX by Laurits Tuxen captured a king and generations of royals to come at one moment in time in 1886 in the Garden Room at the Fredensborg Palace
Ultimately, all royal portraits are subjective and some will love the new Garden Room portrait by Thomas Kluge which will form part of an exhibition at the Amalienborg Palace before being hung for posterity in the Yellow Salon at the Fredensborg Palace.  There have been plenty of strange portraits of regal subjects through the years and more will come.  But this historic portrait has, in one way, brought this most ancient of royal families up to date.  It has the air of a photo from a cartoon book.  Very 21st century.

No comments:

Post a Comment