Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Monumental Landmark in Spanish Royal Portraiture (for JZ)

Due to the Snowpocalypse of 2010, I am working from home (grading, reading articles, in the throes
of academentia) and of course this leads me to take mini-breaks on the internet.

Thanks to a dear friend who is an expert on the semiotics of HOLA, I learned about the video below,
which is a landmark in the history of Spanish Royal portraiture. As you all know, I am obsessed with
popular and high cultural forms of state portraiture particularly those depictions of the Spanish Royal
Family. In the video, you see the removal of a wax statue of Jaime de Marichalar, former Duque de
Lugo, or consort to Spain's Infanta Elena, the eldest child of King Juan Carlos (that she cannot be the
heir is a long story). Their divorce was just finalized, so, like a dissident under Stalin, he was erased
in the official photo on the Royal Family's website, and, in a more awkward and less subtle manner,
literally carried out the door of the quirkily amusing and kitschy Madrid Wax Museum like an outdated
sofa or worse, a corpse.

Madrid's Museo de Cera merits its own post, but suffice it to say that it is a rich amalgam of early
20th through early 21st century museum rhetorics that includes replicas of nationalist history paintings,
and art historical masterpieces (Goya's Fusilamientos!) groupings of pop and high culture, political,
and sports figures, both national and international.

Part of the Royal Family display (Prince Philip and his wife Letizia are not shown here) - Infanta Cristina and husband, the King and Queen, and at the right Elena and Marichalar

Dictator Francisco Franco

This dapper eccentric aristocrat is known for his love of Parisian couture and flamboyant dress and accessories. In fact, the wax version is quite staid, as it featured one of the Duque's guises: dapper English-style dressed aristocrat. Prior to his expulsion from the wax Paradise, and during the euphemistic "cese temporal de convivencia" -or temporary cessation of cohabitation- of the Duke and Duchess, the figure was moved out of the royal grouping to an area depicting a bullfighting arena. This was fitting, since his love of bullfighters is legendary.

As we see above, both in the wax and real versions, the ex Duque de Lugo loved to attend the bullfights, sometimes donning casual wear, including his trademark fan and a baseball hat featuring the Spanish flag.

There are apocryphal stories related to his extreme right wing nationalism including the one
about how the ring tone of his mobile phone is the national anthem. As well, and breaking with an unstated code of
press self-censorship about the Royal Family, the press has reported lurid stories claiming that cocaine abuse led to
the crippling stroke that still affects him today. Other reports raise questions about his sexual orientation.

In the front row at a Paris fashion show, featuring him in one of his (probably custom-made) English cut suits, and profusion of bracelets. Note the Cartier watch as well, and the pinky ring with the family crest.

A recent photo of the former Duque of Lugo taking his kids out and clad in one of his colorful pairs of velvet pants, his chic military style fur lined coat (I could not find a photo but he sometimes wears another with a mink collar and pairs it with a matching mink scarf!!!) and one of his many vibrantly hued patterned pashmina scarves. You cannot see it here, but customarily, when he is in this guise, he wears a camel colored Hermes belt with the large "H" buckle.

Here we see "him" being unceremoniously dragged out of the Museum.

Francisco Pradilla Ortiz Juana La Loca, 1877

In a weird way, it is a kind of inversion of the famous story of the obsessively lovelorn daughter of Isabel
and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs. Juana la Loca, was so enamored of her husband, that when he died,
she took to traveling around with his decaying corpse. Now, another Infanta, in contrast, divorces, and the
wax simulacra of her abandoned spouse is carried away in disgrace to an unknown fate.

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