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Diptych: Philip the Handsome and Margaret of Austria

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This teenage brother and sister were the heirs of royalty and future rulers themselves. Philip the Handsome and Margaret of Austria were the children of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy. Each is identified by an inscription in gold above their head and by the coats of arms at the top of the arch. Around them are further coats of arms representing the states and towns their parents governed.

Philip (1478–1506), who was later King of Castile, wears the livery collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece – a prestigious chivalric order – which he received in 1481. Margaret (1480–1530) was to become one of the effective rulers of her day as regent of the Netherlands. This small diptych (a painting made up of two parts) was easily portable, and must have been done in the early 1490s, when various projects for Philip’s and Margaret’s marriages were matters of intense concern.

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