Inventory number
Leoni, Leone; Leoni, Pompeo
Maria of Hungary
Ca. 1553
175 cm x 60 cm x 70 cm
On display
Royal Collection (Royal Casino, Madrid)

Fifth child of Felipe “the handsome” and Juana “the mad”, Maria of Hungary was born in Brussels in 1505. In 1521 she married Luis Jagellon, heir to the throne of Hungary. Widowed in 1526, she was named reagent of the Low Countries by her brother Carlos V in 1531. She held that position until his abdication in 1556, and died two years later in Cigales (Valladolid).

She is represented standing, with the dress and widow's headdress that appear in most of her portraits. Her clasped hands bear a missal.

The artist, a favorite of the Queen, made the portrait in Italy, modeling it after a painting by Titian dated 1548. Maria's austere dress kept the sculptor from applying the profuse decorations present on other royal statues. The composition is thus enlivened exclusively by the two ends of the headdress, which drape across her like a stole. The figure's slight contrapostto is in keeping with this sculptor's finest works, in which he followed the style of the figures on the tomb of Emperor Maximilian in Innsbruck.

This sculpture is paired with that of Leoni's Felipe II (E00272), which is also at the Prado Museum. Both were commissioned from the artist by Maria of Hungary herself, and it was Leoni who personally took them to Brussels along with some of his other works for the same patron.

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