chapter  1
16 Pages

“Bella gerant alii.” Laodamia’s Sisters, Habsburg Brides: Leaving Home for the Sake of the House

ByJoseph F. Patrouch

This chapter explores how maternity was reflected in public representations of Habsburg women through portraits that often incorporated symbolic elements related to procreation. The importance of procreation for Habsburg women can be seen in the anonymous portraits of Isabel's younger daughter, Catalina Micaela, in Belgium's Royal Museums of Fine Arts and in the Lzaro Galdiano collection in Madrid. Infanta Mara, the only daughter of Philip II and Anna, died as a child in 1583, and perhaps that is why this remarkable object was given to the next queen. Both this case and that of Catalina Micaela demonstrate that these pieces were particularly appropriate to be owned by the Habsburg women, especially at times in their lives when they were expected to become mothers. The midwifes prominent position in Pantoja's painting points to her leadership in everything that takes place in the birthing chamber, as she oversaw the birth and coordinated actions of the women who assisted her throughout the delivery.