Friday, 7 April 2006

Portrait of Mary: the first reactions

Right, this is Constitution Dock in Hobart, which makes up part of the background of the painting [added: it appears the reports Constitution Dock are in the back ground are untrue].

The Sydney Morning Herald says:
The princess and the little scallywag









Her Serenity … the official portrait of Princess Mary painted by Ralph Heimans; inset, one of the early drawings he gave to his former babysitter Marjorie Green
By Sunanda Creagh
April 8, 2006


WITH three works in the National Portrait Gallery, Ralph Heimans is one of Australia's premier portrait artists. So it was no great surprise when he was selected to paint the first official royal portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
But in a little unit in Cammeray, Marjorie Green, 88, proudly displays some rare early Heimans works - childhood drawings by the artist as a bub.
"I have known him all his life and babysat him since he was born," Miss Green said yesterday. "The royal couple love him, and he certainly is brilliant. I have lots of drawings and paintings that he did when he was a little boy.
"He drew funny pictures of me when he was only about 12. He knew that I had never been a drinker but that I liked a drop of brandy in dry ginger ale.
"He drew a picture of me sitting on the floor with empty bottles all around me, my face all crooked and my glasses on sideways.
"I don't see him very often but if he does come to Sydney he's managed to pop in to see Aunty Marj."
Back in Denmark the artist's voice lights up at the mention of his old babysitter.
"I will definitely visit her. I always visit Aunty Marj," he said yesterday from Frederiksborg Castle, where his portrait of Princess Mary was to have been unveiled at the castle's Museum of National History last night.
The 35-year-old Paris-based artist began working on the portrait in May.
Early on, he decided on some rules: no tiara, no polite pose and no sash. "The princess is young and vibrant, so an informal and fresh portrait is befitting," he said.
Not that the princess is looking anything less than composed: standing in the room where her engagement to Crown Prince Frederik was announced, Mary is pictured slipping on some gloves, looking thoughtfully out a window before she leaves the palace. In the foreground is a painting of Constitution Dock in her home city, Hobart.
As usual, she is looking graceful and poised. This is the informal Mary?
Yes, Heimans said. She really is like that. "She has this sense of dignity which she has in real life but it's not an overbearing dignity. Getting a sense of her personality and her spirit through the painting is always the challenge; that's something you don't normally see in royal portraiture."
Heimans met Mary many times during the course of the portrait, sketching her before, during and after her pregnancy. He said she was "the ideal sitter".
"She was great, extremely patient and co-operative and interested in the ideas," he said, adding that the royals let him take creative control.
"Frederik and Princess Mary took a background role. Frederik really just popped in at the end to have a look at the painting, although I met him on several occasions."
His portrait will form part of an exhibition at Frederiksborg Castle called Australian Visit, featuring 50 works on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.


The Australian says:
Home's not far away in portrait of Princess Mary

Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent
April 8, 2006


IS she thinking of home in Australia or bracing herself for her next appointment as a busy Danish princess?
Princess Mary gazes out the window of a Danish palace in her new official portrait, caught in a moment of reflection on her own extraordinary journey from modern Hobart girl to being the stylish new face of one of the world's oldest royal families.
On the wall behind her is a painting of Hobart's Constitution Dock, a touch of creative licence by Australian painter Ralph Heimans, meant to symbolise her Tasmanian background.
"I don't think the look on her face is being wistful about her past, it's more her reflecting on the changes she's been through and what lies ahead of her," Heimans said last night in Copenhagen, where the princess officially unveiled the portrait.
"She is in a Danish palace putting her gloves on to go out into the public eye and we are invited to think what she might be thinking at this point. I was trying to empathise with her as a person."
The portrait shows the former Mary Donaldson in a classically elegant Danish-designed outfit. The setting for the portrait is the nearby Fredensborg Palace, Mary and Crown Prince Frederick's home.
But Heimans, a 35-year-old who works mainly in Paris, reinvented the room for his own creation, imagining the Hobart painting where Venetian landscapes are actually displayed.
"I have also added a mirror to give it quite a confusing spatial effect, which I think produces a sort of dreamlike, surreal quality.
"I was trying to create a narrative and show something of her life with a sense of transition between her old world and her new world."


The Age in Melbourne says:
Portrait captures Mary's tones of home

By Sunanda Creagh and Chris Lines
April 8, 2006


WHEN Australian artist Ralph Heimans was asked to paint the first official royal portrait of Denmark's Crown Princess Mary, he quickly decided on some ground rules.
There would be no tiara, no polite pose and no sash. "The Princess is young and vibrant, so an informal and fresh portrait is befitting," said Mr Heimans, 35, a renowned portrait painter now based in Paris.
He began working on the portrait in May and has been back to Denmark several times to finish the work. It was unveiled last night at Frederiksborg Castle's Museum of Natural History where it will join portraits of figures in Danish history stretching back to the 15th century.
Mary is pictured standing in the Garden Room of the Fredensborg Palace where her engagement to Crown Prince Frederik was announced. She is slipping on gloves, looking thoughtfully out a window before she leaves the palace.
In the foreground is a painting of Constitution Dock in her home city, Hobart. In a mirror, there is a reflection of the Danish flag.
"In this way, the painting represents the Crown Princess on the brink between the old life and the new, the known territory and the unknown," said a statement by the museum.
Museum director Mette Skougaard said the intention was not so much an official portrait, but a more personal study of her history and background.
"There is a royal framework and a royal setting, and traces of Mary's history in Australia." she said.
As usual, the Princess is looking graceful and poised in the painting. Is this the informal Mary? Yes, says Heimans. She really is like that.
"She has this sense of dignity which she has in real life, but it's not an overbearing dignity. Getting a sense of her personality and her spirit through the painting is always the challenge; that's something you don't normally see in royal portraiture."
Princess Mary was consulted about the choice of artist, as was the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.
Heimans sketched Mary before, during and after her pregnancy. He said she was "the ideal sitter". "She was great, extremely patient and co-operative and interested in the ideas.
"Frederik and Princess Mary took a background role. Frederik really just popped in at the end to have a look at the painting, although I met him on several occasions."...

Landscape view gives Mary a stately shadow
AUSTRALIAN portrait painter Ralph Heimans is a globe-trotting jobbing painter, and now one with a royal warrant from Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
Heimans has tempered his interest in classical themes and lurid nudes to produce a compositionally clever, dramatically lit portrait.
But what are we to read into the princess' stiffened pose and thrown-back head as she contemplates something out of frame?
Is she keeping a weather eye on things in Denmark?
Heimans' biggest innovation has been to use a landscape rather than a vertical format. By posing Mary to the right of frame, lit by soft light, either early-morning or late-evening sun, she throws a long shadow — and who would deny that she has come a long way?
Penny Webb is an art reviewer for The Age


And from Mary's hometown The Hobart Mercury says:
Mirror image of Mary's past

By Fiona Hudson
April 8, 2006


IT is as much a puzzle as a portrait.
Viewers who look closely at the first official painting of Denmark's Crown Princess Mary will find a series of clues from the painter intended to keep you guessing.
Sydney-born artist Ralph Heimans altered reality to fuse Princess Mary's past and present in the giant oil-on-canvas work.
She posed in the Garden Room of Copenhagen's Fredensborg Palace, but a mirror behind her shows a hazy vision of Hobart's Constitution Dock. A dream-like flag reflected on the roof hints at her Danish ties, and she appears deep in thought as she puts on her gloves to go outside.
"In a way the painting represents the Crown Princess on the brink between the old life and the new," Heimans said last night. "She is about to leave the palace and is standing there reflecting as she heads into the public realm.
"The viewer is invited to imagine what she might be thinking."
Though the Princess was pregnant during sittings, Heimans said the piece was always intended to show Mary on her own and there was no thought of including her pregnant belly or the child.
"It's very different to other royal portraits. There's no tiara or sash she's just really young and fresh. It's her as she is in real life," he said.
"She was so warm and easygoing. We had an easy rapport because of our common Australian background. There' s a lot of buzz about the painting in Denmark; people are very excited to see it. I don't know what the critics will say yet."
The most important critics -- the Princess and her husband Crown Prince Frederik -- seemed thrilled with it, he said.
Paris-based Heimans, who started work on the portrait in February 2005, said he usually considered a portrait a triumph if the sitter walked away smiling after the first peek at the finished work. He confirmed: "Yes, she was smiling."
Prince Frederik also wore a huge grin.
"There was no one to whom the portrait probably mattered more," Heimans said...

Also, similar information in Danish in B.T., DR.dk, and on the TV2 site.

We will bring you more reactions and photos as they come along. You might like to drop us a line about what you think of the portrait and we can publish a snapshot of your views.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Maggie said...

I generally tend to love portrait paintings, so I love the new one of Princess Mary. I also love it because it shows a side of her that is rarely shown in this type of official portrait. It's more like a candid photograph than a portrait, which I think will help it be appreciated universally.

I also want to express my appreciation for this website. I love to keep up with Princess Mary, and all other websites pale in comparison! Thank you very much for making this such a "one-stop shop" for news on the Danish royal family.

8:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful portrait of a beautiful woman. Well done, Ralph Heimans! PAINT ME!!!!

And congratulations on such a terrific website ... a great place for Aussies to catch up on the latest on our Danish Crown Princess and her family.

I despair at one or two other websites which publish the most revolting lies and rubbish ... which unfortunately seems to appeal to a few people who cannot hide their envy and jealousy.

Finding a website which rejoices in the entire family in a simple,honest manner is wonderful.

You will attract many readers!

Carol Ireland
Australia

10:35 pm  
Blogger Maja said...

I am not sure whether to love it or hate it, there is a saying in Danish which literally translates "having your nose in the sky" and it goes to describe extreme arrogance and snobbishness in a person. To me, this is exactly what this portrait captures, and the more we have seen and read of Mary in the last year, we are many - really many - who are getting more and more convinced that this excatly is the real Mary. As she painter and everyone behind the making of it, which certainly includes the approval of the crown princess herself, has made a great deal out of the fact that this portrait should demonstrate the personality behind the person Mary, I think he has done that brilliantly. Only sad that so many Danes still are fooled to think this match is doing something good for Denmark, when this and Mary will be who will be remembered for bringing the Danish monarchy to its end.

2:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the painting Mary looks beautiful as ever. Thank you for your website its great keep up with Mary and the rest of the Danish Royals without having to go with some of the rubbish on the other sites. I think Mary is great for Denmark, remembering the saying only believe a quarter of what you read.

7:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great painting

This painting is so much more interesting than a classical portrait would have been.

Crown Princess Mary's background is very different and it is wonderful that the painting pays attention to that. The painting also captures Mary's beauty and grace in a very nice way, although her facial expression is stronger and a little more harsh than her real life one.

I am Australian, by the way, and have been enchanted by this real life fairy tale. It's more than a fairy tale as we all know. Mary and Frederick are two intelligent and beautiful people who work very hard at their chosen roles. Their lives, as reported, are wonderful examples of humanity, style, intelligence and class.

Kate
Australia

2:55 pm  

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