Saturday, August 29, 2020

Koningin Astrid van België (1935)

In commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the death of Queen Astrid, wife of King Leopold III, mother of King Baudouin, King Albert II, and grandmother of King Philippe, here is a short Dutch film featuring a few of the high points in her brief time as Queen consort. We see the accession of King Leopold III on February 23, 1934, the christening of Prince Albert, Queen Astrid performing charitable works as part of a Relief Committee, King Leopold and Queen Astrid at the baptism of the daughter of the Count of Paris, and a royal visit to Liege. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Another Albert and Elisabeth of Belgium

The Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia

Here are some articles on the life of Isabel Clara Eugenia, the daughter of Philip II of Spain who became the ruler of the Spanish Netherlands.  With her husband, Archduke Albert of Austria, she consolidated the victory of the Counter-Reformation in the future Kingdom of Belgium.  Hundreds of years later, Isabel became an inspiration to her namesake, Elisabeth of Bavaria, Queen of the Belgians, the consort of King Albert I. 

In March of 1588, the ministers of Henry III of France, his contemporary, announced that King Philip was "mad": "The grand chancellor assured his awed dinner guests in Paris that while Philip's councillors debated state affairs, his eldest daughter, Isabel, was signing documents and in control of government." 

This "scandalous" announcement derived from reports made by Philip's ambassador in Paris, who had told the French king's mother, Catherine de' Medici, about the significance of Isabel's role in her father's government. Rumors were also spreading in Spain that, if Philip were "incapacitated," it would be Isabel who would "take control of the government" of her father's kingdom, and not her half-brother Philip III.

Her potential to function for her father as a "regent" had been noted as early as 1574, when an eight-year-old Isabel was suggested as regent of the Netherlands. She obviously would have been a figurehead then, but from an early age she had been extremely close to her father, who had played a "direct role" in raising her and her sister Catherine Michelle. 

Isabel, in particular, had emulated her father, and he had allowed her "to take part in his office work." By 1586, she was able to be a significant help and adviser to her father; she "read him the letters and despatches he had to deal with, adding her suggestions on how they should be answered." He "even gave her access to the most important papers of state."(Read more)

Here is an article on Isabel, the Counter-Reformation, and Rubens' series of tapestries on the Triumph of the Eucharist.

The portrait, which is today known only through copies and prints, has neither accompanying drapery, nor architecture, nor even any accessory, except for the rosary that hangs from her simple rope belt, thereby emphasizing her piety and spiritual authority. Rubens enhanced this concept by lightening the area around Isabel’s head as if she were radiating a divine glow. Barbara Welzel has noted that this halolike aura conveys Isabel’s majesty and plays with her second name, Clara, which in Spanish can mean light, thus visualizing a connection between the infanta and her moniker. An engraving after the painting with an inscription by Jan Gaspar Gevartius provides deeper specificity of meaning: (fig. 13)

of the imperial dynasty and daughter of Philip II, is praised as the jewel of Spain and the salvation of Belgium. She is the prudence of just war, the honor of chaste peace, and the love of religion. She was crowned with the oak wreath after capturing Breda, bringing the longed-for peace to Belgium, the peace it had sought in the rays of the shining Isabella.

The text unmistakably credits the infanta for the victory at Breda by calling her the “jewel of Spain and the salvation of Belgium” and the one responsible for capturing the town. That the peace was also sought in her shining rays of light further links the victory to her spirituality and heavenly empowerment. The centrality of this sentiment surfaces in the divine eye of Providence that Rubens illustrated at the top of the portrait print, above the inscription “providentia augusta ut serves vincis” (You conquer because you serve sublime Providence). The symbol of God’s guidance and intervention, the eye presides over two supple putti who crown the infanta with “the oak wreath after capturing Breda,” a wreath, which, in Roman tradition, was awarded to those who had liberated their fellow man from a subjection imposed by the enemy. The wreath, thus, came to symbolically identify the person thus crowned as a savior. This image reinforces the notion that God watches over Isabel, and, through the spiritual authority he invested in her, helped her combat his enemies at Breda to secure the victory and bring “the longed-for peace to Belgium.” (Read more)

Isabel with her husband, Albert
Engagement of the future King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Travels with a Curator: Charterhouse, Bruges

A presentation by Xavier F. Salomon of the Frick Collection of a beautiful painting, “The Virgin and Child with St. Barbara, St. Elizabeth, and Jan Vos,” by Jan van Eyck, commissioned by Jan Vos, the prior of the Charterhouse of Bruges.  

As others have commented, there is a theological error in the explanation of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory provided in the video; souls in Purgatory can only be destined for Heaven, not Hell. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Levina Teerlinc

A presentation by Claire Ridgway on a Flemish-born artist of the Tudor court.

More HERE.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Agnus Dei - Samuel Barber LIVE

A haunting performance by the Vlaams Radiokoor of Belgium.