Queen Christina is known not only for her royal identity but also with her intellectual personality, with her actions, with her radical and different royal appearance in world history. She was daughter of King Gustavus II Adolphus and Maria Eleonora. King Gustavus II Adolphus was very important leader and was known as the monarch that ruled during the time of greatness for Sweden. This was the seventeenth century when Sweden slowly found its way forward in culture. Sweden acquired cultural artefacts through its aristocracy and its rulers and this was a time of cultural development for the country. Although a male dominance existed in the art collecting areas a few such as Queen Christina of Sweden, Madame Pompadour, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Peggy Guggenheim were the exceptions.
The purpose of this essay is to critically understand Queen Christina through her paintings collections. The motivations of the collector in collecting these art forms and the different representations chosen are analyzed. The queen was considered a paradox in her times and many historical records paint her as being focused on things that were beyond her time. A tomboy by nature and upbringing, Queen Christina was considered rebellious and forward in her thinking, a nature many in her time could not relate to. This essay argues that Queen Christina’s painting collections stand to represent-a motivation to improve cultural capital held by her country and also present her own identity.
Motivations of the Collector
A notable element that is argued for when it comes to the Queen’s painting collections is that although the Queen was seen to be collecting different paintings, she showed little interest when it came to landscape work. Landscape paintings or landscape art as they are known are about the landscapes where one lived in. It was about the backgrounds, castles, the sky, the mountains and more. Works of art from artists like Claude Lorrain for instance were not entertained by Queen Christina. On the other hand, she was more interested in the artworks that portrayed the human figure or historical scenes. However, this argument is seen to differ in other research sources. When it came to collections Queen Christina was seen to associate her collections with culture and as such was also equally invested in acquiring paintings of landscapes that represented cultural elements. The work of Mikulas Teich in ‘Bohemia in History’ shows that the Queen was very much interested in acquiring the paintings of the Rudolfine painters from Prague during the reign of King Rudolf. After the Emperor’s death the paintings along with other artistic elements were taken to Prague and were installed in the gallery of Rudolf along with the works of other contemporary painters. Teich estimates that the price of such paintings would be in millions of florins. He calls Prague as a “magnet for collectors and robbers”. In fact, the argument made by the author was that art loving Queen Christina was part of an organized robbery of the Rudolfine painting collections and this was one reason that most of the paintings are still available for European viewing. The reason for this paradoxical interest or motivation that Queen Christina showed could be because of two reasons. As arguments lead one to understand the Rudolfine art was very much complex and symbolic in its meanings. Landscape art is usually a representation of elements as such and does not lead to much complexity in interpretation; it is a painting to be experienced and not a puzzle to be solved. However, Rudolfine art was seen to be complex, it was not just landscape; it was a mix of cultural connotations. Cultural connotations like that of Czech culture, German humanism and more were presented in the painting, along with the landscape work of architecture forms that bespoke this culture. Other researchers furthermore note that Queen Christina was motivated to collect paintings of human forms and the mannerism style that was used by the Prague artists was seen to appeal to her nature.