Saturday, August 29, 2015

Erzherzogin Anna by Hans von Aachen

Aachen, the court painter for Emperor Rudolf II, traveled Europe painting portraits of potential empresses for his boss who wanted an impeccable beauty. The featured painting of this article presents one of the hopefuls named Anna Tyrol. 
She didn't marry Rudolf, yet chose to marry a different emperor, a cousin, abundantly older than her young years. She never conceived children, and died at the young age of 33.

I will never understand the need to wear stiff, starched ruffs around the neck. Frequently, they started at the nape of the neck and ended firmly against the chin area. The adults perceived no displeasure from this tortuous device, as parents arrayed their children in this manner from a young age, and humans are susceptible to accustomed rules of society. The picture below shows an entire family dressed in ruffs, and the children appear contented and undisturbed by their restrictions. 
Anna also wears a ruff, which exhibits a stiff filigree rather than the standard starched linen, though this might be the artist's perspective, painting his subject from a different angle. 

The hair piece is quite elaborate with a pinwheel strategically placed, preceding from a strongly jeweled headband. The jewelry's domain is Anna's severely plain hair, which is drawn away from her face (into a ponytail?--did they have ponytails in the 16th century?). Was this a conscious decision Anna chose, conscientiously treating her hair in such an austere manner to enhance her jewelry's beauty?

I unfailingly accepted the creator of duck lips to be Angelina Jolie, yet after viewing Anna's lips, I'm prepared to acknowledge the birth of this fad commenced in the 16th century. Though the lips aren't as pouty as the recent trend, the affectation is visibly evident.

Anna's character breathes mystery. There's a haughtiness in her face, which indicates entitlement, yet I may confuse sorrow and depression for snobbery. I don't believe we'll ever know her emotions and thoughts on life--I can only hope her life gave satisfaction and contentment to the end.

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