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Philip the Handsome
Probably by Pieter van Coninxloo
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This young man with flowing hair is Philip the Handsome, son of the Holy Roman Emperor and founder of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, so-called because of his fair hair and attractive grey eyes. The painting is one wing of a diptych (a panel painting in two parts). The other, showing his sister, Margaret of Austria, is also in the National Gallery’s collection.

Philip wears the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, a prestigious chivalric order founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in the 1430s. The artist has minimised his prognathism – an inherited condition where the lower jaw sticks out forwards, the so-called ‘Habsburg jaw’.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Pieter van Coninxloo
Artist dates active 1479; died 1513
Full title Philip the Handsome
Group Diptych: Philip the Handsome and Margaret of Austria
Date made about 1493-5
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 22.6 x 15.5 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2613.1
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings 1250-1600
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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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