Kristian Zahrtmann (1843-1917), Queen Christina in Palazzo Corsini, 1908
This intimate historical painting shows the abdicated Swedish Queen Christina lifting up her dress to heat her behind by the fire.
Zahrtmann may have become interested in Christina through his work on the Danish queen Leonora Christina, but he was also fascinated by the myth concerning her ambiguous gender identity. The ambiguity is accentuated here by the phallic pipe and by her inhabiting a traditionally masculine sphere: The spiritual, intellectual sphere, as symbolised by the book and statue.
A controversial figure
Zahrtmann was a controversial figure who taught many of the painters of the modern breakthrough. His radical choices of colour and motif stood out amongst the concepts of beauty prevalent in his time. Many figures in his work transcend the gender ideals of his time, but in real life he did not think women could be artists.