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Attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger (c. 1561-1636)

Anne of Denmark (1574-1619) Dated 1614

Oil on panel | 110.5 x 87.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 404437

Queen's Bedchamber South Closet, Palace of Holyroodhouse

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  • Anne of Denmark, consort to King James VI and I, is here shown richly dressed with an ostrich feather fan just visible in her right hand. Her jewellery includes three long ropes of pearls and several diamond brooches, including a crowned S and C4. Inscribed in the background with the motto: La mia grandezza dal eccelso ('My greatness is from on high') which was a favourite with the Queen. The format is three-quarter length although the composition suggests it has been cut down at some point. There are possible pentimenti (changes by the artist) in the jewels, in the attachment of them to the Queen's dress and hair, and in the drawing of the wired ruff.

    Anne particularly admired the drum-shaped wheel farthingale which gives her skirt the characteristic shape seen here. She insisted on it being worn at court long after it had gone out of fashion. The Venetian Ambassador wrote of her in 1617, 'Her Majesty's costume was pink and gold with so expansive a farthingale that I do not exaggerate when I say it was four feed wide at the hips'. Here her bodice and skirt are of matching silk, a silver-grey background woven with small sprigs of flowers. Arranged into approximately 30 deep flounces, the skirt opens down the front - two buttons to fasten it can be seen just below the long string of pearls. Anne rests her hands on the shelf-like section of the farthingale around her waist, a position that helped stop the garment from swaying uncontrollably. The fabric would have been pinned into these pleats on a daily basis. This took a significant length of time and an expanse of surplus fabric was required - outward signs of conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption.

    Anne of Denmark adored jewellery. In 1597 she appointed Edinburgh jeweller George Heriot her goldsmith for life and over a decade he provided jewels totalling £40,000 to the queen – equivalent to £3.9 million today. Queen Anne used emblematic accessories to emphasise her own dynastic importance. The monogrammed C4 jewel seen here in her hair was a gift from her brother Christian IV of Denmark, and the diamond-studded S on her collar a reference to her mother, Sophia. 
    Provenance

    Apparently first recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of James II at Whitehall

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on panel

    Measurements

    110.5 x 87.3 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    124.6 x 102.1 x 5.5 cm (frame, external)