Frederiksborg National History Museum’s ‘Images of a Queen’ exhibition delves into the many sides of Queen Margrethe via a selection of exquisite portraits from her birth to the present day
On New Year’s Eve, Denmark and the rest of the world were shaken by the unforeseen news of Queen Margrethe II stepping down from the throne. After a reign of 52 years, she announced she would pass the responsibilities to her son, Crown Prince Frederik, who will assume his new role as the King of Denmark on the 14th of January.
The much-beloved Queen’s announcement has sparked numerous tributes celebrating her royal life and time on the throne, the longest reign by a monarch in Danish history. The most recent homage comes courtesy of Frederiksborg National History Museum, which is unveiling a new exhibition titled ‘Images of a Queen’, featuring over 40 of the museum’s portraits of Margrethe throughout the 83-year-old’s vibrant life.
“We wanted to display a wide selection of our images – paintings, busts, photographs, drawings – of the Queen, and at the same time invoke different ‘images’ of the Queen in people’s minds. As a monarch and a human being. From the cradle, literally, until now. As a baby, a young girl, a daughter, an heir to the throne, a queen, a woman, and an artist,” explains Tore Leifer, the portrait editor of the exhibition.
There are famous must-see selections among the portraits, such as Andy Warhol’s glitter-adorned silkscreen pop art masterpiece from his 1985 ‘Reigning Queens’ series. Other highlights include Her Majesty’s official photographic portraits by Rigmor Mydtskov, captured in 1972, shortly after her ascension to the throne. These images capture the different sides of the budding Queen: in one portrait, she is clad in a dramatic, full royal dress, dripping with decorations and jewels. In the other, she is a confident young woman, wearing a simple yet elegant frock and a lustrous pearl necklace. In addition to being very passionate about art and archaeology, Queen Margrethe is known for her love for fashion and costume design, and the evolution of her style is woven through the Images of a Queen exhibition.
There are also rare, lesser-known works included in the exhibition, such as the drawing by Gerda Ploug Sarp, which showcases the Queen as a little baby, just eight months old, during Christmas in 1940. “Another very nice drawing is a sketch in charcoal by Niels Strøbek from 1974 of a beautiful young woman who does not seem to be a reigning queen. Yet, you are in no doubt that this is her – her earrings can also be seen on other portraits,” says Leifer.
Offering a glimpse inside the Queen’s life through portraiture, the exhibition is a must-visit for those eager to commemorate her remarkable reign. “I hope that visitors will have seen many different ‘Images of a Queen’, that they will have seen many forms of portraiture and that they will have experienced both the more extrovert, majestic and more introverted, dreamy sides to this extraordinary person: Queen Margrethe II,” says Leifer.
The Images of a Queen exhibition opens on the 13th of January at the Frederiksborg National History Museum in Hillerød, Denmark.