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Video transcript

historically paintings were often made for specific purposes in the world very specific in this case we're looking at whole lines Christina of Denmark Duchess of Milan from 1538 and this was commissioned by King Henry the 8th think about Henry's world for a moment or world long before photography when images were still fairly rare he wanted to know what this young woman looked like but she lived in Brussels he lived in London and he didn't want to go he wanted to know what she looked like because he was considering marrying her his 3rd wife had just died to Jane Seymour and he was on the lookout for a new wife among the nobility of Europe she would have been an especially good catch she was the niece of the Holy Roman Emperor and that would have benefited him by creating an alliance that's right knock first all marriages for people of that status in society had political purposes nevertheless Henry still wanted to know what she looked like so he sent his court painter hold on to Brussels to paint her and apparently she sat for him for three hours and during that time he did drawings the painting was made back in London when he returned this story is he came back with the drawings and showed them to the king and the King thought she looked beautiful and apparently kissed the drawings importantly he kept the painting even though the marriage was never actually arranged the marriage fell through for political reasons she's only 16 and interestingly she wears the gown of a woman in mourning in fact she had already been married she was married at age 11 although she never lived with her husband he was the duke of milan and that accounts for her black dress and the fairness of the image she stands in front of this turquoise green background and she casts a shadow behind hers and she does cut a very elegant silhouette she's be long gated but she's a little bit off-center just a little bit to the left of the image and you can see more of her flowing black mourning dress and robe just to the right on the floor below her but it doesn't feel off-center because of the shadow line on the right it's thought that perhaps she's standing because Henry may have wanted to know how tall she was the length of her body is emphasized by the linear quality especially of the fur lining of her coat and the emphasis on contour and line around her face the line around her eyebrows and down to her nose and the contours of her lips I'm actually really taken by the hands which are beautiful and elegant this application of the elegance of those hands perhaps because of the gloves that she wears and the sleeve that she wears with that very fine ruffle when our eye moves down we have her mouth pursed together and then we move down her body and we see the bow that's tied and then below that her hands are to come together her lips which come together the bow that comes together and then her hands and gloves that come together down the center of the painting it is really beautiful and elegant and full of promise and seems absolutely perfect for a representation of perhaps of a future bride