Juan Pantoja de la Cruz: Portrait of Elisabeth of Valois, Queen consort of Spain (1565)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

A wonderful portrait of Juan Pantoja de la Cruz. The sitter is Elisabeth of Valois (1545-1568), the second child and oldest daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Elisabeth became the third wife of King Philip II of Spain. Although Elisabeth was only 14 and Philip was 32 when they married, the couple had a happy marriage. She gave birth to two daughters but died on 3 October 1568 and her third miscarriage. This portrait shows her at the age of 20. She wears an austere black velvet dress, keeping in line with the Spanish fashion at that time, but she is adorned with sumptuous jewels. In her right hand she has a jeweled fur zibellino (a pelt of a sable or marten which is draped at the neck, hanging at the waist or carried in the hand) with a bejeweled chain. Painting from 1565.

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