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Masks of authority : Charles V and state portraiture at the Habsburg courts, c. 1500-1533

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Matthews, Paul Geoffrey 


This dissettation studies the development of paintings (on independent supp01ts) of members of the Habsburg dynasty during the first third of the sixteenth century. During this period there was a move from the limited bust or half-length p01trait of c. 1500 to the three-qumter or full-length figure of c. 1530. There was also a shift from humanising pottraits of members of the dynasty towards representations of them where their faces become immobile masks. The likenesses of the Habsburg dynasty became increasingly authoritarian, frequently depicting them in armour. The dissertation asks why these shifts came about, arguing that they reflect a reaction to a significant moment of political and intellectual change, the coronation of Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor, and the pretensions of Charles' court to elevate him to the status of 'Last World Emperor'. The dissertation has the following structure. An introduction delineates the research methodology used, firstly, by defining and justifying the subject, scope and structure of the disse1tation as a whole and, secondly, by examining the primary and secondary sources of information about Habsburg portraiture during the period under discussion. The first chapter considers the existing secondary literature on Habsburg state portraiture, and questions some of the methodologies that have been used in earlier research. The second chapter defines some of the general characteristics of the state portrait. Chapter Three provides a brief background to the genre from ancient Rome to the fifteenth century, before looking at the tradition in the Burgundian Netherlands and the Austrian Erblande before Charles V's accession. Chapter Four examines the production of portraiture at the Habsburg court in the Netherlands in relation to Habsburg policy objectives up until Charles V's accession to the throne of Spain. Chapter Five covers the management of Habsburg portrait iconography in the Notih and the ancestral Austrian lands from Charles' election as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519 to his arrival in Italy in 1529. The final chapter discusses Charles' visit to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands between 1530 and 1533 and looks at the dramatic change that overcame Habsburg iconography at this time. This is followed by a Conclusion, document appendices, a Checklist of works related to the text, and the Bibliography.





Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge